Following American Airlines' decision
to end Orbitz's authority to ticket AA flights, Travelport, which owns 48 percent of Orbitz Worldwide, today said it is "taking a number of actions to defend travel agents and consumers commensurate with AA's anti-consumer and anti-competitive actions." When asked what those actions are, a spokeswoman wouldn't say. [more]
"We don't comment on commercial negotiations or pending legal matters," according to the spokeswoman. So does that mean we should view those "actions" as part of negotiations and/or legal proceedings? "Yes, to both," she replied.
A Travelport statement added that "AA's action to coerce a more restrictive model under threat would violate AA's contractual obligations with Travelport. AA's plans and the resulting inefficiencies and associated costs would be detrimental to airline customers, travel agencies and consumers. Travelport's dispute is solely with AA. Travelport hopes to resolve this dispute to the benefit of consumers and travel agents."
Travelport also is circulating a memo that offers "myth-busting" on AA's direct-connect initiative. For example, Travelport wrote that it is a myth that "direct connect makes the best economic sense for agencies" because any "short-term incentives" given by AA to agencies won't overcome "the 100 percent long-term loss of an agency's financial assistance through the GDS for all of its AA bookings."
Travelport also argues that the direct connect program would be less, not more, efficient for agencies, and would require agencies to use multiple systems to truly comparison-shop. It also insists that its systems would be able to handle "the customization AA is talking about" if only AA were willing to cooperate.