Travelport To Host Japanese GDS

Japanese distribution system Axess International Network struck a long-term deal with Travelport for hosting and other IT services. It also announced that Japan Airlines Co. acquired the 25 percent stake in Axess previously held by Sabre Holdings, making Axess a wholly owned unit of JAL. Axess claims to process "40 percent" of all Japanese BSP tickets.

As part of the Travelport deal, Axess will be hosted in Travelport's Atlanta data center "as a partition of the Travelport global distribution system," according to Travelport. Axess also expects in 2013 to implement an upgraded GDS including "improved connectivity to airlines and a significant increase in the range of fares, shopping, hotel and car rental capabilities available for use by Japanese travel agencies and corporations," according to the companies. "When fully implemented, the agreement will also allow for Axess bookings to be retrieved and modified worldwide by any travel agent using a Travelport GDS terminal, enhancing customer service for Japanese travelers."

According to Axess, the new system will include enhancements for "certain reservation and ticketing functions, which will be customized to the Japanese needs," and retention of existing products, including an agency terminal product called Axess CREA and the Multi-Japan group booking tool. The agreement also calls for "new products and technology for business travel management."

Still part of American Airlines at the time, Sabre in 1995 signed a joint venture with Axess. The sale of its 25 percent stake to JAL is part of a "plan to streamline Asia/Pacific distribution partnerships," according to a spokesperson. "Sabre will continue to have a strong relationship with JAL, providing Axess and its customers with continued access to its shopping and pricing solution, and hotel and car content until such time Axess transitions to an alternative in 2014. Sabre will also continue to be a key technology partner to JAL, providing airline software including Sabre air shopping and pricing, revenue and profit management, and network and scheduling planning."

According to Sabre's website, the company maintains Asia/Pacific joint ventures with regional GDS Abacus and Japan's Infini.

For Travelport, the deal in Japan augments its Asia/Pacific presence, which includes a joint development agreement with China's TravelSky.