ARTA and ARTA Canada Warn that Sabre's Removal of AA
Will Lead to Further Escalation of a Dangerous Game
Between GDSs and Airlines
Both Associations Support Open Dialogue Involving Key Stakeholders
Scottsdale, Arizona and Toronto, Ontario - 05 January 2011: The Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA) and the Association of Retail Travel Agents - Canada (ARTA Canada) raised serious warning flags today that Sabre's intention to remove American Airlines content as of August 2011 will lead to more retaliation from both sides of this escalating dispute, leaving travel agents in the crosshairs and "up the creek without a paddle".
"The sniping and rhetoric emanating from this very public and troubling disagreement has to stop; now. ARTA fully supports the Open AXIS Group's call for industry dialogue on these issues. Until we have open and transparent discourse on the underlying dispute, travel agents will continue to face an uncertain future as to distribution tools and all-important content access", said Sally Watkins, CTC, Vice Chairman, ARTA.
Sabre's interim plans to immediately disfavor AA inventory in GDS listings and to increase segment fees charged to AA will very likely result in surcharges passed on to agencies by AA in much the same way as in the ongoing similar dispute with GDS-owner Travelport. By bringing U.S. agents into the fray, the dynamics and levels of tolerance among agents, GDSs, and AA (and likely other airlines) will disintegrate even more rapidly.
As a consequence of Sabre's plan to eventually remove AA entirely, Sabre may be inflicting itself with significant contract issues and a steady exodus of users. Travel agency subscribers of Sabre may find valid content reasons to terminate their relationship with Sabre early if AA is not available in key agency markets. Certainly Sabre subscribers in the Chicago, Dallas, and Miami areas, for example, may find it unbearable to have a GDS without a key market participant like AA.
"It does seem quite disingenuous for GDSs to use the 'what's good for the travel agent and consumer argument' when some of these very GDSs have for years maintained restrictive covenants in their agent/GDS contracts preventing the use of agency tools which blended GDS airline inventory with non-GDS airline inventory - all in a monopolistic attempt by the GDSs to prevent comparative displays and non-GDS bookings - no matter how good the schedule or fare may have been for the consumer. Let's be honest, this is all about GDSs protecting their segment fee earnings and keeping those fees as high as possible", said ARTA Canada President Bruce Bishins, CTC.
Bishins went on to say that the "cat and mouse" game being played by the GDSs will ultimately fail and that airlines will prevail in doing everything possible to not only protect their distribution cost reduction and content enhancements now, but create the next generation of distribution platforms for the long term.
Bishins was the earliest proponent of a cost neutral, unbiased travel distribution system, back as early as 1995. The current acrimony between GDSs and airlines will likely bring greater urgency and attention to the development by content and technology providers of such a platform; the GDSs have much to lose if they continue down their retaliatory path. Travel agents will go wherever the content resides; they have no choice but to do so.
ARTA has always been at the forefront of those industry changes which have strengthened the agency community. Founded in 1963, and for the past 47 years, the Association of Retail Travel Agents is the largest non-profit association in North America that represents travel agents exclusively.
ARTA is headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona. ARTA is the strategic partner of Canadian-based ARTA Canada. For more information about ARTA, please contact Ms. Pat Funk, ARTA's Executive Director, at 1-866-369-8969 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About ARTA Canada
ARTA Canada is the largest non-profit federally incorporated professional association of travel retailers in Canada, the members of which consist exclusively of travel agencies and travel agents. In addition to advocating fair and equitable treatment of travel consumers, ARTA Canada represents the commercial and strategic interests of its member travel agencies and travel agents in a variety of national and provincial domains including regulatory and legislative matters, automation, technology, sales and marketing, and distribution.
ARTA Canada is based in Toronto and is the strategic partner in Canada of the U.S.-based Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA). ARTA Canada is the Canadian member of UFTAA, the United Federation of Travel Agents' Associations.
Complete details about ARTA Canada's new $99 membership campaign for 2011 and an online ARTA Canada membership application and secure payment are available on its web site at www.artacanada.ca/join.