More Praise for Air Canada, But Can U.S. Carriers Also Be So Controlling?

Add American Airlines to the list of carriers that has publicly praised Air Canada's control over its product distribution. Speaking recently with EyeforTravel, Charlie Sultan, AA managing director of sales, planning and analysis said, "What Air Canada has done very well, and continues to evolve, is saying, 'If you want to sell my product, you will sell it the way I want it sold.' You will see that type of mentality continue to evolve over the industry to the point that every carrier will have standards about how they want their products displayed, and if you are not able to display it in that manner, then you are just not going to be allowed to sell that product."

An understandable goal, perhaps, but it may not be realistic. Air Canada's dominance in its market certainly helped it call the shots in its relationships with third-party distributors. American, or any other airline in the competitive U.S. market, may be hard-pressed to exert the same influence over those selling to all customer segments.

While airlines certainly would welcome any technological advances that allow them to standardize some aspects and tailor others, regardless of which store shelf the product appears, can they afford to risk turning away any business these days?