Travelport would welcome Ryanair on the GDS should the leading low cost carrier in Europe opt to perform a u-turn on its distribution policy.
Addressing delegates at this week’s Travelport Evolve summit in Monaco, Kurt Ekert, the firm’s chief operating officer, said low cost carriers in general are recognising the value of the GDSs.
He said Travelport currently has 63 in the system and, despite O’Leary previously ruling out any return by Ryanair, he was open to discussions.
Last week O’Leary and Google announced participation on the search engine’s Flight Search price comparison product.
But Ryanair’s new head of groups and corporate travel Lesley Kane appeared to indicate a further broadening of its distribution strategy when she was quoted as saying the airline was in talks with all three GDSs.
This was in complete contrast to the most recent public utterances on the GDSs by O’Leary who claimed they took around a quarter of the airline’s revenue for very little in return when it was last on the systems two decades ago.
The discussions with Google are understood to have taken the best part of a year, so any sudden appearance on the GDSs seems unlikely.
Ekert said globally the number of low cost carriers coming on to the GDSs was growing rapidly.
“There is a recognition that as low cost carriers grow and they need more opportunity is we offer a very competitive distribution network and you as travel agents offer a value,” he said.
“Technically we can bring things to the table we have not been able to do before. The value proposition we are presenting today is really compelling.
“We would love to have Ryanair on the system. If they ever chose to participate we would only do that if it worked for all stakeholders in the chain.
“Integration of low cost carriers is a huge mandate for our company and, sure, we would pursue Ryanair if they are interested.”