Delta: 'Significant Work' Ahead To Get Economy Comfort Into GDSs

Delta this week announced that it would add Amadeus to the channels through which it plans to sell Economy Comfort, also including Travelport and Farelogix, "but those agreements require significant work between us and those distributors to actually make them happen," said Delta vice president and deputy general counsel Peter Kenney. Speaking Tuesday in Washington during a meeting of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protection, Kenney provided color on Delta's distribution approach, noting the carrier has "no interest in hiding ancillary services or withholding that information" from indirect sales channels.

Neither Delta nor Amadeus shared a firm timeline on when sales of Economy Comfort would commence. Delta previously inked an agreement with Travelport to sell Economy Comfort "later this year" through the Apollo, Galileo and Worldspan global distribution systems.

Kenney noted Delta's agreements with Amadeus, Farelogix and Travelport also could include "potentially other ancillaries as they become available," though he did not specify.

The new agreement with Amadeus calls on the distributor to "work with Delta on initiatives to further personalize and enhance the customer experience as Delta continues to transform the distribution of its products and services," according to a joint statement.

A Delta spokesperson described the Amadeus deal as an "expanded long-term agreement." A previous content agreement between Delta and Amadeus expired at the end of June.

Amadeus North America president and CEO Scott Gutz and Amadeus North America chief marketing officer Scott Alvis in a memo to agency clients this week noted that "Amadeus will continue to be a competitive booking source, allowing travel agents in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands participating in the Amadeus Content Plus program to continue to enjoy access to content from Delta Air Lines without being subject to surcharges."

They added that Amadeus "in the coming months" will provide agents with details about selling Delta's Economy Comfort via the Amadeus system.

In Washington, Delta's Kenney said, "The ancillary services for us are new revenue streams. We're trying to sell this stuff, and to suggest that we're trying to withhold it from the largest distribution channel, it's sort of like saying if Coke came out with a new soft drink but refused to let retailers put it on their shelves. It just doesn't make any sense. As you think about these issues you should take with a grain of salt arguments that airlines are trying to withhold this information. The real issue is airlines trying to work through with the GDSs and any other distribution channel__Farelogix and anybody else who comes along__the conditions for offering this information that work for us. We need economic terms that work, we need the assurance that information is going to be displayed accurately, correctly and without bias, and we need to be assured that the technology is in place to actually conduct the transactions effectively."