Ebookers relaunch on hold

Mystery surrounds the long-awaited re-launch of Ebookers, originally earmarked for April this year, as rumours circulate that the business is now in lockdown until its position in the Travelport empire is decided.

The online travel agency has spent almost 12 months rebuilding its back-end capability, ready for migration to a common platform as part of a Travelport-wide overhaul of technology across its consumer-facing products including Orbitz and Cheaptickets.

US-based Travelport chief executive Jeff Clarke and local UK officials previously pointed to April 2007 as to when consumers would see results in terms of an enhanced user experience for search and booking.

The site was also expected to be completely re-designed.

However it is understood plans to unveil a new Ebookers site this month – and questions remain as to the long-term roll-out of the project – have been put on hold as Travelport bosses consider the future of the company, as part of an IPO of a portion of the Orbitz Worldwide brand.

Ebookers officials in the UK declined to comment to questions regarding the re-launch of the site, citing Security and Exchange Commission regulations in the US which prevent disclosure of any information regarding the future of a business during ownership negotiations.

Clarke told analysts during a conference call in March that the B2C technology platform would be delivered “beginning in Q2 of this year”.

It is believed much of the work behind the scenes with the Ebookers platform has already taken place but officials have now decided to wait for the results of the IPO before giving the green light for a high profile launch.

In January this year a new logo was introduced to offline marketing campaigns and on the Ebookers website.

Travelport forerunner Cendant bought Ebookers for £201 million in 2005. Travelport today announced Steve Barnhart, Orbitz Worldwide president and chief financial officer, will take on the chief executive role as well as that of president. A search is now underway for a a CFO, Travelport said.

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