GDS giants await EC approval for joint venture

Sabre Holdings, parent company of Travelocity and Lastminute.com, and Amadeus are teaming up for the second time in a year in an effort to standardise the payment process for non-air supplier products.


The companies have filed an application for anti-trust approval with the European Commission to create a joint venture that will provide automated payment processing, clearing and reconciliation solutions to the global travel industry for non-air products.


In a joint statement, the companies said the intention of the proposal is to “establish an industry standard solution to improve and better meet the requirements of the travel industry with payment efficiencies, increased automation, and improved interoperability”.


If approved, the payment flow for non-air segments of the industry such as hotels, cruise, tour, car and rail would work in much the same way as airline settlement exists today. This could be good news for travel agents, since the new process would help to expedite commission payments. 


A Sabre spokesman said the proposal would have “no impact on booking fees”.


“The intent of this joint venture is to address an industry-wide need for greater efficiencies in payment processing, clearing and reconciliation for those segments of the travel industry not covered by the BSPs or ARC,” according to Sabre.


An Amadeus spokesman explained that it teamed with Sabre because two companies applying to change the current processes are better than one. The EC has to approve the proposed venture, because Amadeus and Sabre are competitors.


Amadeus says the venture in no way telegraphs future collaboration. Last year, Amadeus and Sabre inked a deal to give each other access to airline inventory should any carrier withdraw its content from either system.


The EC decision deadline is 12 September.

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