But Orbitz’s pioneering role in establishing airline direct-connects is left out of the official look-back.
The online travel agency, founded by American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines and United Airlines, launched in June 2001 amidst controversy.
The U.S. Department of Justice had Orbitz under the microscope out of antitrust concerns and Southwest Airlines had sued Orbitz for displaying the airline’s flight schedules without authorization.
Regulatory authorities eventually gave Orbitz the green light, the Southwest Airlines’ schedules were dropped, and Orbitz, after an IPO, a merger and another IPO, eventually evolved into public company Orbitz Worldwide with its global footprint.
It is interesting to note that among numerous accomplishments listed in a press release about its decade of existence, there is no mention of Supplier Link, which Orbitz heralded in 2002 as a “breakthrough,” ¬†stating that its introduction made “Orbitz the first Internet company to replace all intermediary functionality in order to book tickets directly with airline reservation systems.”
Supplier Link was a direct-connect between Orbitz and major airlines and at the time it bypassed the Worldspan global distribution system.
Today, Orbitz is locked in a battle with cofounder American Airlines over the direct-connect issue, and under court order¬†American Airlines’ fares have been restored to Orbitz.com using a combination of Supplier Link and GDSs [see last Nugget] owned by Travelport, which controls Orbitz Worldwide.
In addition to the direct-connect issue, another self-acknowledged challenge Orbitz Worldwide faces is transforming its hotel program into one that is competitive on a global basis.
So, appropriately, to celebrate 10 years in business, Orbitz is conducting a 10th Anniversary Hotel Sale.