HRG ‘keeping its options open’ on Direct Connect

Corporate travel agency Hogg Robinson has insisted it is keeping its options open and remains committed to the GDS following a statement issued by American Airlines last week.

The airline released a statement saying that the two companies were in talks over a Direct Connect agreement.

It said:  “American Airlines and Hogg Robinson PLC announced today that the companies have agreed in principle to explore a long-term arrangement for the benefit of their corporate clients, in which HRG would receive guaranteed direct long-term access to American’s fares, schedules, and customised travel products and services.”

However,  the travel management company has insisted that all options remain open and that it remains committed to the GDS.

Bill Brindle, HRG’s group distribution and technology director told Travolution: “We are looking at all options for our corporate services business, and the GDS remains part of that.

“We are looking at the best way for our corporate clients, for example, to find out whether an Airbus A380 has Wi-Fi available in First Class or whether it’s possible to book a dinner table in an airport lounge. Some of this information is just not easily available or accessible via an airline’s website. We are looking for the best benefits and services on offer and their availability for our clients.”

Brindle said he couldn’t say how long the American talks had been going or how long they would continue for.

American Airlines is currently in dispute with the GDSs with a series of law suits and counter law suits swapped in the US between American and Travelport and Sabre.

The announcement of the American-HRG talks follows a recent sparcely-worded extension to the Travelport-American Airlines full-content deal. This allows the two sides to continue operating as normal while the legal dispute between them continues.

The row centres around the cost of distributing air fares on the GDSs, with American saying it wants to drive all bookings direct. The GDSs argue they add value to the process and that direct connect feeds will reduce choice to the consumer and is unproven technology.

Travelport declined to comment yesterday on the announcement of talks between American and HRG.


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