Ryanair this week confirmed what was once considered unthinkable – a return to selling through a GDS.
The no-frills airline is to sell through Travelport’s Worldspan and Galileo systems from March 19, despite ruling out such a move just six months ago.
Speaking last September, chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “We are not going back on GDSs and paying ludicrous amounts to Amadeus, Worldspan [Travelport] or Sabre who add nothing to the process.”
It was notable that it was not O’Leary who announced the about-face this week in London, but Ryanair’s new chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs.
He said: “This partnership with Travelport is a significant development for Ryanair and for businesses across Europe and beyond as we continue to evolve our business offering.”
No details of the commercial deal with Travelport were revealed, but it was said to be similar to that which has seen rival easyJet embrace the GDSs.
Like easyJet, Ryanair’s move is all about attracting higher-yield corporate travellers, but Travelport UK managing director Simon Ferguson said leisure agents would also benefit.
“The content will be available to all agents, but it’s the business community that Ryanair particularly wants to focus on,” he said. “But there is the opportunity for leisure agents to use the content as well as there is no booking fee.”
Ferguson hailed the impact of Travelport’s air merchandising platform, which allows airlines to distribute via the GDS as they do on their own sites.
“Travelport has exclusivity with Ryanair at the moment, which is not the case with the easyJet deal,” he said.
“We are very excited about that. We see it as vindication of everything we are doing with our merchandising platform that makes ancillaries easy to sell.”
Other GDSs are expected to strike similar agreements with Ryanair in time.
A small number of corporate and leisure agents will have access to Ryanair fares on March 19 ahead of access for all from April 2.