American Airlines is poised to issue Automated Debit Memos (ADMs) from today to agents who have booked flights through Travelport GDSs Worldspan or Galileo since late December.
However, agents and corporate travel management companies are ready to reject the ADMs as being in breach of IATA rules. American aims to levy charges of up to £6.24 per sector for what it calls a Booking Source Premium on the GDSs.
Advantage corporate director Ken McLeod said: “This is a major issue. There could be a lot of ADMs in dispute. American is trying to break the back of the GDS model, and we know why they are doing it – to save money.” He suggested agents reject the ADMs on the grounds American has not consulted the trade in advance.
American is seeking to drive bookings via the web and through its own Direct Connect system, and thereby eliminate the cost of appearing on GDSs. McLeod said: “Direct Connect is totally impractical. Connecting to it is not like plugging in a TV.”
An Advantage survey found more than half the consortium’s 170 corporate travel members have responded to the ongoing dispute by selling American flights only at the request of clients. McLeod warned: “American will be out on a limb. I don’t think anyone in the UK would be too unhappy if American disappeared from their screens. No one is happy with the airline.”
American has revealed it is in talks with online retailers Expedia and Orbitz as well as with GDS Sabre. However, its relations with Travelport – which owns a controlling stake in Orbitz – remain the subject of a court case.