New York – What is American Airlines senior vice president of global sales Alison Taylor cheerful about? What keeps her up at night? The answer to both questions is the same: the future state of AA’s GDS relationships.
Speaking here last week at a World Travel Inc. event, Taylor reiterated AA’s stance that NDC is not about circumventing GDSs. “GDSs will always have full content,” she told the crowd of a few hundred travel management pros. “We don’t see when or if that will ever change, for the next few years at least.”
Taylor said AA is “working very closely” with GDSs to prepare their systems for NDC. She noted that American is “helping Sabre build an IT solution for NDC,” and that such development is “part of our contract negotiations.”
In general, Taylor is “really optimistic” about GDSs adopting NDC. She also noted that NDC has gained traction in markets like Brazil and China, especially with online travel agencies. About 100 hundred of AA’s customers already are using NDC, Taylor added, without specifying who those might be.
AA sales and distribution strategy vice president Cory Garner later told The Company Dime that 60 parties — including agencies and GDSs — by year-end 2016 had integrated with the carrier’s NDC connection. The goal for 2017 is to double that number, and “we are on track to well exceed that goal.”
When asked what keeps her up at night, Taylor said “the Sabre contract,” given its importance. But she added that she expects the two sides to wrap up a long-term deal soon.
She also mentioned the different tack taken by parters British Airways and Iberia — surcharging the GDS channel, effective Nov. 1. The way around that for customers, Taylor said, is to book the AA code for affected flights.
World Travel Inc. CEO Liz Mandarino said, “We’ll absolutely be ticketing on AA stock.”