BA bashes GDSs for ‘snail’s-pace’ change

A British Airways board member has slammed global distribution systems for developing technology at a “snail’s pace”.

BA commercial director Drew Crawley echoed a recent attack on the GDSs by airline association Iata saying: “The GDSs have not felt obliged to develop. The existing model has suited them. If we don’t adapt we’ll be left behind. The speed of development [of GDSs] has been snail’s pace.”

He added: “If people are growing their business off the back of our content we expect a return. We’re happy to discuss how to add content in ways that does not strip value from us. That is why we’re putting content licensing agreements in place with new distribution. We want certain criteria met in distributing product.”

Iata secretary general Tony Tyler dismissed the GDSs as “clunky” last month, saying airlines had to be able “to sell a premium seat at a premium”. He said Iata would unveil new “fare distribution standards” in October. Crawley said: “We welcome Iata’s initiative.”

BA will shortly begin negotiating distribution deals that come up for renewal from next March. “We will be engaging with the GDSs at the IAG level to talk about contracts,” said Crawley.

“We are committed to multi-channel distribution. We know the GDSs want to get involved. But customers ultimately pay the bill and we expect everyone in the supply chain to work on efficiencies.”

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