As you may recall, after Amadeus won the contract to transition United off its long-used Travelport/Apollo reservation system and to migrate it to the Amadeus¬†Alt√©a airline-reservation system, the plan fell victim to United’s financial woes, an economy in the tank and a changing of the guard in the airline’s tech leadership.
Sources say Amadeus believes its IT contract with United remains in place and the travel technology and GDS vendor is hopeful that the reservations-system deal might be revived with the post-merger United Airlines.
Despite Amadeus’ wait-and-see approach, the contract’s revival would seem to be a long shot.
Amadeus won’t comment on the status of its contract with United.
While United remains on Apollo five years after the United-Amadeus contract was signed, Continental uses the EDS SHARES system.
In their merger announcement, the two airlines pledged to move to a common IT platform by 2013, and it is hard to imagine that two airlines would take the enormous risk of scrapping their respective reservations systems in that timeframe and transitioning to a new one, such as Amadeus Alt√©a.
Lufthansa uses the Alt√©a¬†system, which is supposed to be the Star Alliance common IT platform, and could potentially put some pressure on the post-merger United Airlines to come onboard.
Air Canada, meanwhile, had contracted with ITA Software to build it a new reservations system. However, Air Canada, facing economic pressure, scuttled the ITA Software deal in 2009.
One has to wonder what Amadeus’ ultimate reaction would be if its coveted United contract comes to naught.
Amadeus historically has been the weakest global distribution system (GDS) in North America, but in 2008, Amadeus opened an office in Arlington Heights, Illinois, outside Chicago, to support the Amadeus Alt√©a-United contract.
Amadeus, buffed up by the United deal, threw a lot of resources into the Chicago area, where United is headquartered.
In the ensuing two years, Amadeus brought in two new executive vice presidents for the Americas and planted them in Arlington Heights.
The United contract was seen as a big win for Amadeus — its first contract with a major airline in North America — and a boarding pass into the market.
However, despite the fact that the United put the breaks on the contract’s implementation, Amadeus has beefed up its staffing in Illinois.
Amadeus moved the Arlington Heights office to Chicago in January 2010 and expanded operations there — not just for United — but for Amadeus’ IT and consulting businesses in North America and Latin America.
Still, without knowing the details of the Amadeus-United contract, might United face some liabilities — or Amadeus make its ire felt — if the reservations’ system relationship comes to nothing?
Note: Amadeus says there is no truth to rumors that it is phasing out its North America headquarters in Miami in favor of Chicago.
Amadeus states: “The focus of the Miami office remains the same. In Miami, Amadeus continues to have distribution sales & commercial operations (providers & travel agencies), marketing, strategic planning and business development, and customer support and training for’ travel agency, travel supplier, and specialty customers for North America as well as some functions serving Latin America.”