ARTA Supports AA Court Win, Warns Agents

The Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA) and the Association of Retail Travel Agents - Canada (ARTA Canada) applauded a decision by a U.S. court in Texas to grant a temporary restraining order requested by American Airlines against Sabre's bias and de-preferencing of AA data.

"This is good news indeed for all Sabre subscribers and assures that AA content will continue to be accessible efficiently and without obstacle," said Sally Watkins, ARTA vice chairman.

The benefit to carriers and their agents is indisputable, ARTA said.

"We said from the beginning that Sabre was mixing itself into a dispute in which it had no involvement other than to backstop support for other GDSs which moved against AA. The end result, as we predicted, would be that travel agents suffer as a result of GDSs making AA data more difficult to find, or, as Sabre indicated for Summer 2011, not at all", said ARTA Canada President Bruce Bishins.

Bishins warned that the vitriolic posturing of the so-called "Open Allies" group (ASTA, BTC, ITSA, GDSs, etc.) and similar stands taken by the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) would do nothing more than make airlines dig in their heels even further in trying to control their distribution costs and product differentiation.

“The allies group and ACTA continue to propagate myths about transparency, single airline access, and the loss of fare comparison information, when the reality is that GDSs themselves are also being asked to connect directly to AA — maintaining the status quo of traditional data displays, but with new, increased services and products at a fraction of the cost, “ ARTA said. “ARTA and ARTA Canada are confident that AA and other carriers will prevail in the end, bringing to travel agents and their clients, new, cost-effective, functionality and broader service customization. It is time for the GDSs and their allies to be a cooperative part of these exciting changes; not an impediment to them."

”If the allies and ACTA keep this up, they will only have themselves to blame as airlines lose patience with the retail travel agency sector, and instead of embracing them in new platforms and connectivity, will simply move on with agents not being at the table to influence these critically important enhancements," added Bishins.

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