United Airlines signals it wants a better deal with GDS
This week, Scott Kirby, president of United Airlines, suggested that the airline may need to take a tougher stance toward GDS.
Scott Kirby has only been president of United Airlines since late August, but he is already making waves. This week, he suggested — with the support of CEO Oscar Munoz — that the airline may need to take a tougher stance toward the technology companies that act as middlemen between airlines and travel agencies.
Kirby called out distribution systems on what he believes are unfair prices and inflexible technologies during his past executive roles at American Airlines, US Airways, and America West.
Last October, he even testified in a US Airways lawsuit against one of the companies, Sabre, and accused its chief executive of, among other things, having threatened his airline with “an ultimatum” that Sabre would “boycott” displaying his fares to agents unless the airline accepted Sabre’s contract terms.
This week, Kirby, now at United, made some intriguing remarks when answering questions from analysts on a quarterly earnings call. What United does next could have a ripple effect on the industry’s distribution costs — worth more than USD 1 billion a year for United alone — and also on how easily travelers can compare prices for flights.
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