American Airlines is back in Direct-Connect mode, after its programme to try and turn the airline distribution model on its head fell by the wayside as it faced bigger battles.
Signs of life emerged a few weeks ago with hints of what’s to come, not least with some of the big online travel agencies such as Expedia.
But the marketing machine is back in full flow following months of hunkering down as the airline grapples with Chapter 11 and refinancing for the best part of nine months.
American Airlines may well he hoping that a deal with Priceline this week will be the start of a resurgence of interest around Direct-Connect.
The agreement sees the online travel agency picked for a promotion which allows users to book a “preferred seat” on AA, giving consumers a 25% discount in the process.
Unfortunately for consumers the promo only lasts a week.
Priceline says it is currently booking around 2,000 tickets on the carrier every day since it adopted the Direct-Connect with AA in January 2011, a jump of 1,000 per day since July of last year.
But while the carrier will claim this is a another step in its drive to twist the air distribution model (“less expensive and more capable technology,” says Cory Garner, Americanâ€™s managing director for sales operations and distribution”), less is known about the deals which many argue it REALLY wants: adoption by corporate travel agencies.
It is almost a year to the day since the carrier disclosed it is in discussions with HRG about using Direct-Connect, an announcement which raised many a cynical eyebrow as it came during the most intense period in its battle with Sabre and Travelport.
Twelve months on, perhaps some semblance of deal might be close?
It appears not. American Airlines says pace on any such agreements “has been slower than we had hoped” – a statement pretty much confirmed by HRG (“no update”).
NB: Discount sale image via Shutterstock.