Travelport Threatens Frontier Over Fare Changes

Travelport alerted travel agency subscribers that if Frontier Airlines refuses to roll back recent fare and distribution changes that "clearly conflict with Frontier obligations to Travelport," then the GDS operator "intends to terminate the Full Content Amendment between Frontier and Travelport."

Frontier last month introduced its new "Basic" fare category, which provides fewer benefits and higher change fees than its other fares, but only is sold through third parties. The carrier also designated its website as the only place to reserve advanced seat assignments.

Frontier senior vice president of commercial Daniel Shurz last month told The Beat that this the moves were "very clearly a play to drive more business direct to the site," but in a manner that Frontier viewed as being respectful of its agreements with third-party distributors.

"We have pretty standard full-content GDS agreements with the big players, so whatever we do has to be compliant with those agreements," Shurz said, adding, "We're limited in how creative we could be."

Apparently, Travelport doesn't agree that Frontier was creative enough. In an Oct. 12 memo to agencies, first reported by Travel Market Report, Travelport president and managing director of the Americas region and Airline IT Solutions Derek Sharp noted, "We have discussed those changes with Frontier and have offered Frontier various options that would remove any obstacle to your continued sales and servicing of Frontier's services. Unfortunately, Frontier has not yet advised that it intends to reverse its position."

Sharp further noted, "We will continue to explore other alternatives but we are not prepared to accept the harm that Frontier is causing to Travelport and our subscribers."

Sharp acknowledged that terminating its full-content agreement with Frontier "could result in Frontier deciding to take even more action that is detrimental to Travelport and our subscribers which we will closely monitor and react to as appropriate."

Travelport also could remove Frontier from its "Content Continuity and Super Access Programs," the name for Travelport's fee-based opt-in programs that shield agencies from some booking fees. Yet, if the GDS operator does so, it "will not impose fees associated with those programs for Frontier segments," according to Sharp. "Flights for Frontier will continue to be available for display and sale through the Travelport GDSs for as long as Frontier chooses to participate in the Travelport systems."

Frontier did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Sabre, meanwhile, declined to discuss its views as to whether Frontier had violated its content agreements.