American Leads The Charge As EMDs Settled Through ARC Soar

Electronic Miscellaneous Documents settled through ARC rose to 236,059 last year from 54,442 in 2014, once again setting an annual record. American Airlines is staking a claim in the majority of those.

American managing director of distribution and data commercialization Cory Garner said that more than three-quarters of ARC's EMD volume is coming from the airline, most via online travel agencies tapping into its Farelogix-powered XML connection. Most EMDs, Garner added, are for seat sales.

"We expect that we'll easily quadruple that volume this year," he said. He attributed the expected growth in part to seat sale implementations with global distribution systems.

Often likened to e-tickets for ancillary sales, EMDs serve as fulfillment and accounting documents for non-airfare purchases. The International Air Transport Association established the standard to replace manual or paper-based methods like miscellaneous charge orders.

In August 2011, American became the first airline for which an EMD was issued via ARC.

Some agencies, mostly online travel agencies, have tapped into American's direct connect for distribution of fares and ancillaries. Garner noted that American's "XML-based direct connect pipe" is American's "third-largest source of travel agency volume in the U.S. at 6 million tickets a year." That's less than Sabre and Travelport but more than Amadeus.

"The lion's share of the EMD volume that's being generated right now is from our direct connect, independent of our GDS connections," he said. But the GDSs are moving along.

In a memo to subscribers last week, Sabre noted that American's paid seats will launch for United States-based subscribers on Feb. 2, and "a global rollout will follow." The memo noted that such sales would result in the issuance of an EMD. American revealed its work with Sabre toward this end last year.

As for other GDS implementations, Amadeus "will be coming soon," but "there's more work to be done" with Travelport, said Garner.

ARC CEO Mike Premo did not specify which airlines are settling EMDs via ARC, but ARC has confirmed American's outsize progress.

While IATA set a deadline for airlines to adopt EMDs via its bank settlement plan, it does not appear to be spurring widespread adoption among U.S. airlines settling through ARC.

Premo noted that the benefits of EMDs for travel management companies and corporate clients include better data for reporting on non-fare spending, as well as servicing travelers when there are changes to trips.

ARC reported that EMD sales reached $19.5 million last year, up from $3.8 million in 2014.