Airlines must go through a complete cultural digital transformation rather than rely purely on technology to achieve their objectives, the Amadeus Airline Executive Summit was told.
Speaking on a C-Level leadership panel at the end pf the two-day event in Prague this week, Julia Sattel, senior vice president airlines at Amadeus IT Group, said:
“As a technology provider we are there to help fulfil the ambitions that our customers want to achieve. But there is more to achieve than technology.
“Technology must never be a hurdle, we have to provide the best so our customers have no limit on the technology side.
“What airlines seem to struggle more with is their own culture which they need to change in this age of digital transformation to achieve what they want to achieve.”
Sattel said Amadeus is moving to provide more open platforms to enable partners to implement their strategies but that this also requires “fundamental change” on the airline side.
Abdul Wahab Teffaha, secretary general of the Arab Air Carriers Organisation (AACO), said of GDSs: “We have a history in the airline industry of creating the monsters that will eat us.”
But he said he sees tremendous value in the GDSs even if many airlines have a love hate relationship with the now independent distribution platforms they once created.
He said it should be remembered that Amadeus was created at a time when it was feared the US Sabre GDS, created by American Airlines, was going to “conquer the world”.
Sattel said Amadeus began life with to provide for both direct distribution and GDS concepts of distribution.
“The consumer, in the end, decides how they are going to buy,” she said. “Therefore, I’m not worried for a second how people buy.
“That’s consumer evolution, and we will provide the technology to any channel that’s chosen by the consumer.”
Christophe Bousquet, senior vice president of research and development at Amadeus, said the GDS was a market place with airline providers on one side and travel agencies on the other.
He said Iata’s New Distribution Capability will give more power to the airline but that the idea of the marketplace is quite modern and was evolving.
Thomas Reynaert, managing director of aviation lobby group A4E, said the European airline sector in Europe is going to be “messy”.
“Airlines are going to be more than previous years under pressure to tackle costs because it’s a question of survival.
“Large group airlines are going to be fine…but I would not say we won’t see any more blood flowing. The mood is very uneasy especially with airlines that don’t have the scale.
“Good healthy airlines will grow, and that growth will be to the disadvantage of the smaller ones.”