Amex agrees 'in principle' to use American's Direct Connect

Amex agrees 'in principle' to use American's Direct Connect

American Express has become the second leading travel management company (TMC) to agree in principle to access American Airlines’ fares and services via the carrier’s Direct Connect system.

Announcement of the deal between American Airlines and American Express Global Business Travel at the end of last week followed a similar “agreement in principle” between the US carrier and Hogg Robinson Group (HRG) in early August.

It means American Airlines has won agreement to use Direct Connect, at least in principle, from two of the three biggest TMCs in the UK. The deals appear likely to strengthen the carrier’s hand in negotiations with global distribution system (GDS) owners Sabre and Travelport.

Sabre and the airline are in talks on extending a GDS full-content agreement that expires at the end of this month. The carrier has said it will seek an injunction to maintain its presence on the GDS, which displays fares for travel agents. Sabre has insisted it wants a new deal.

However, the pair are embroiled in federal and state court action in the US, as are American Airlines and Travelport, as the carrier seeks to change the terms of existing distribution agreements – and is watched by other airlines keen to follow suit.

American Express Global Business Travel and American Airlines (AA) announced they “have agreed in principle to explore a long-term arrangement . . . [under which] American Express would receive guaranteed direct long-term access to AA’s fares, schedules and customized travel products and services via AA’s direct connect link through aggregation technology for such content provided by one or more global distribution systems.”

The announcement added: “The arrangement is subject to the execution of a definitive agreement.”

An announcement of the earlier agreement with HRG was similarly worded, but HRG said it “would plan to access American’s content through the airline’s direct connect link using its own technology, either directly or via a GDS application programming interface (API)”.

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