Joining the chorus of industry voices concerned with the American Airlines/Orbitz/Travelport clash, the National Business Travel Association (NBTA), expressed its disagreement with AA’s decision to stop displaying and selling tickets through Orbitz Worldwide.
The NBTA also said it was concerned that recent actions by Delta Airlines to pull their inventory from three smaller online travel agencies is a prelude to other airlines taking steps that will ultimately harm the business travel industry.
“American Airlines’ decision will lead to higher prices and confusion for corporations, business travelers and consumers alike. Travelers wanting to fly American will now need to bounce back and forth across multiple websites to book a trip," said Mike McCormick, the NBTA’s Executive Director and COO. "American’s decision does nothing to help business travelers or their employers – it adds an unnecessary obstacle to smooth business travel booking and will lead to higher costs in the end. NBTA believes it is critical to maintain a fair, transparent and competitive buying environment for business travel, and American’s decision is in direct opposition to this goal."
Global Distribution Systems, widely utilized by airlines worldwide, enable business travel procurement and promote transparency, access and competition, the NBTA said. They provide business travel purchasers with the information required to make informed spending decisions.
The NBTA’s position is that airline mandated “direct connects” that bypass the existing distribution systems will result in a significant increase in capital expenditure that business travel buyers will ultimately bear. In addition, businesses that rely on information to negotiate for and maintain airline discount programs will be challenged in their ability to track volume and enforce travel policies.
“Air travel in general and business travel in particular is a major driving force for the economy, and we are increasingly concerned about this decision as part of a pattern of recent activity that will come at the expense of the business travel buyer," McCormick said.
Next year, the group will release a comprehensive position on behalf of its members on the topic. The NBTA serves a network of more than 17,000 business travel professionals worldwide.