British Airways is looking at outsourcing some operations for its flagship ba.com website as part of a major cost-cutting exercise around the business.
Travolution can reveal the booking and servicing elements of ba.com – a major part of the ecommerce programme for the carrier’s online platform – will be run by a third party under proposals currently being considered by senior figures in the company.
It is understood the carrier is hoping to radically reduce expenditure across a number of divisions and offloading operations for ba.com is a major priority for 2009.
A number of sources have confirmed to Travolution that costs associated with running ba.com are currently in the region of £30 million a year.
Although BA uses third party suppliers to run the online FAQ service and payment authorisation system, outsourcing the ecommerce platform for ba.com is expected to put some of the biggest travel technology firms in the industry on full alert.
A number of companies are known to have expressed an interest in running the parts of the ba.com portfolio being put on the table, Travolution has learned.
ITA Software in Massachusetts, USA, which couldn’t be reached for comment, is understood to be one of the firms considering bidding for the business.
Sources have also suggested that any of the major GDSs, such as Amadeus, which has a long-standing relationship with BA, would be likely suitors for the outsourced work.
BA confirmed to Travolution this week that it has spoken with “two or three” companies but a tendering process has yet to officially start.
Meanwhile, part of a wider management restructuring programme within British Airways will also see significant changes to personnel within BA.com, a process which will see general manager Carsten Willert leave his position to return to Germany at the end of his current three-year contract in March 2009 and half of the sixteen senior managers take voluntary redundancy.
Another senior manager will be promoted to another role within BA. The carrier has yet to decide who and what position will be charged with overall responsibility for ba.com.
In a joint statement to Travolution, Willert and chief information officer Paul Coby said: “We are indeed looking at getting third party suppliers to provide some aspects of ba.com.
“There is nothing new about this; neither is this ‘outsourcing all of ba.com’.
“We have a long-standing policy of looking out into the marketplace to find the best services available for our customers.
“As we develop new great products and services for our customers on ba.com which differentiate BA, we use suppliers to provide commodity services now generally available across the travel industry.
“This enables us to concentrate on what matters, which is providing great customer service online.”
Officials also confirmed that the ba.com platform will “continue to be run by BA” through a mixture of its in-house development team and the “best of what is provided by third party suppliers”.
A spokesperson added: “The aviation industry is suffering its most difficult period in history. More than 30 airlines have already gone out of business this year.
“Consequently, we are looking at all aspects of our cost base across the company.
“One of these includes speaking to a number of suppliers about what efficiencies they could deliver to the company. This is also in line with good procurement practices.”