The head of Travelport has declared he is “sceptical” about Iata’s ability to devise standards for a New Distribution Capability that would end the listing of airline fares and schedules on GDSs.
Iata confirmed its plans this week suggesting: “This will revolutionise the way fares are sold.”
However, Travelport president and chief executive Gordon Wilson said: “A lot of what Iata is talking about, we already do.”
Wilson told Travolution: “With Air Canada we make a request to the airline over an API link. But is this realistic at the scale and en masse to the standard required? I am sceptical. We deliver responses in milliseconds. The more complexity is added, the bigger the challenge to deliver the response time.”
He suggested Iata had “overstated” the impact of its move, adding: “Having standards is always good. But a lot of airlines are ahead of Iata on this and we are already working with them.”
Wilson insisted: “We have no issue at all with airlines wanting to deliver tailored content.”
But he said Iata had to demonstrate it is serious in its declared desire to develop the capability collaboratively.
Wilson said: “We want to be able to engage. Has Iata engaged as much it could up to now? No. Iata has a history of imposing.
“If people want this to work, they will do it by working together with key constituencies and not by dictating to people. Iata does seem to be beginning to reach out to people. If this is going to be [a collaborative process] as Iata says in public, then I’m hopeful.
“If not, it will be evidence that this is another attempt to disrupt the business model.” He added: “The jury is out on that.”
Wilson suggested Iata member airlines would have differing views on the implications. “I’m sure there will be some [in Iata] thinking this is about changing the business model, some thinking it is a chance to beat the GDSs over the head, and some thinking it is just a chance to sell more ancillary product.”
He confirmed Travelport is in talks with American Airlines “about longer term agreements” following a joint statement this week confirming the companies’ existing agreements have been extended beyond this year.
Travelport remains involved in anti-trust action with American over fare distribution in the US.
Wilson said: “We are talking about how American can sell its differentiated content through our system. But we won’t disrupt the business model [to get agreement].”
He was speaking as Travelport reported a sixth successive quarter of growth in revenue per passenger (RevPas) despite a year-on-year fall in third-quarter revenue.
The GDS’s RevPas rose 3% year on year, with quarterly revenue down 4% and year-to-date revenue down 2% – a decline Wilson attributed wholly to the loss of Travelport’s master services agreement with United Airlines.