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DOJ Moves to Block Acquisition of Farelogix by Sabre.
The Department of Justice in the United States has sued to block the acquisition of Farelogix. The DOJ's complaint points to the likelihood of the acquisition resulting in a lessening of competition, an increase in prices for booking services in the United States and a reduction quality, service choice and innovation for booking services. The DOJ also takes the position that Sabre's GDS agreements have restricted Farelogix's ability to compete.

T2RL's view is that there is a broader market to consider in connection with the merger and that a combination of Sabre and Farelogix would permit Sabre to compete more effectively with Amadeus in the provision of IT solutions to airlines outside the United States in particular. Farelogix would provide the ability to replace some of the core technology that underpins the GDS and PSS infrastructure specifically accountable documents including ancillaries, real-time availability processing and commercialization of the schedule. Farelogix would accelerate Sabre's transformation to new generation systems.

At the core of the DOJ argument is a different definition of a market. T2RL does not understand how the DOJ came to assess booking, ticket issuance and the channel chosen by customers as distinct market places. To call out traditional agents and online agents and booking services in those channels as markets will undoubtedly be part of the upcoming dispute. Airlines ultimately appoint travel agents to issue tickets and the GDSs contract with travel agents to supply technology services. Other channels are available to consumers and corporations in the US and other geographies making this part of the argument a little more complex. The channels available to airlines (assuming they have the IT infrastructure to support this) include direct channels and APIs (NDC flavoured or not) and travel agents choose to work directly or indirectly with the airlines according to a set of their own criteria, including customers and passengers needs. It is also clear that some airlines can and have negotiated their GDS agreements which contain the right to charge fees and pass those fees on to the customer to incentivise them to move to the direct channels. This has certainly been the case in Europe with IAG's airlines, Lufthansa Group and Air France / KLM.

Elsewhere airlines are developing private channels which see incentives paid by airlines for bookings to the travel agent. There is no doubt that the market definition will be debated by both parties in the coming weeks and months as Sabre responds to the complaint and pushes to obtain a judgment to go ahead with the purchase. The exact timing of the litigation is not currently known, as the parties will be working on a protective order (i.e., determining what information will be kept from public court filings) and a timeline for the proceedings.

Typically the hearing before the judge in such cases is held within a 2 to 6 month time frame. If Sabre fail to win the battle there will be a long queue as others will seek to purchase Farelogix including a list of private equity houses.

Southwest inventory available in Amadeus and Travelport for industry standard processing.
After years of participating at the lowest functional level in Sabre and Travelport GDSs, Southwest have announced new partnerships with new capabilities to support industry standard processes for TMCs and corporates with Amadeus and Travelport. The announcement highlights the importance of the corporate business by signalling incremental revenue expected in 2020 and a basic timeline for GDS readiness in mid-2020. Southwest Business are focussed on a set of customers that are likely to appreciate Southwest's policies with respect to no change fees and free bags. This complements the recent announcement for participation in NDC and of course builds on the decision to move to Amadeus PSS some years ago. T2RL see this announcement as a win for newly appointed CEO of Travelport Greg Webb and his team. The announcement will also reinforce the value of the GDS business at a time when there has been significant press around the continued demise of the GDS as a result of NDC. T2RL does not share the view that GDSs are end of life particularly given the importance of Amadeus, Sabre and Travelsky in provisioning the PSS solutions that support distribution and will be even more important when NDC receives broad adoption.

Cebu Pacific Renews with Navitaire until 2028
Cebu Pacific has extended their existing agreement with Amadeus' Navitaire until 2028 and will continue to use Navitaire's reservations, inventory, departure control system, e-commerce and revenue accounts platform. Cebu Pacific is one of Navitaire's key customers in the Asia Pacific region undertaking 20.3 million PBs in 2018 including franchisee Cebgo. This renewal follows other key renewals for Navitaire this year including the AirAsia Group, Eurowings and Spirit.

Sabre partners with Cheetah for Loyalty
Sabre have been executing on their plans to rationalise their airline technology product portfolio since Dave Shirk was appointed as the President of Sabre Airline Solutions in April 2017. Shirk has since been promoted and now also runs the GDS business. The deal with Cheetah makes great sense to T2RL as part of the product portfolio rationalisation. Loyalty solutions are now considered mainstream IT platforms "off the shelf" with all of the necessary integration support for all types of merchandising and customer touch points. Ultimately the partnership will only work if the combined Sabre / Cheetah teams win business from the existing players in the market place. T2RL's research suggests that in-house developed systems still dominate the airline loyalty landscape with approximately 27% market share, followed by Oracle with some 19% share and Comarch third with approximately 7%. At first glance this looks like another smart move from Sabre in picking a market place with significant in-house systems and it appears one of the more advanced vendors according to Forrester Research. T2RL will follow this solution and report to subscribers on market performance in our future reports on market share for loyalty solutions in the airline business.

Margrethe Vestager EU Competition Commissioner turns her attention to Amadeus and Sabre
The EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has announced an investigation into whether the practices at Amadeus and Sabre have resulted in harm to consumers through increased fares. This investigation was not unexpected. The investigation will focus on the GDS agreements with airlines and agents. It appears to specifically target any restrictions the contracts have with respect to new technologies and new methods of distribution and that this in turn drives up the price of the tickets. T2RL believes this will be a very challenging investigation for the EU. Sabre's timing for the purchase of Farelogix seems to be timed almost perfectly as no doubt Farelogix had been one of the specialist firms offering new technology for airline distribution. Ultimately airline distribution is complex and much more about absolute values of revenue less distribution cost than averages. T2RL will follow this case closely in our research and analysis. Stay tuned to

Sky Angkor Airlines migrates to Travelsky’s QUICK Passenger Retailing System
Sky Angkor Airlines from Cambodia has migrated from AeroCRS to TravelSky's new QUICK (PRS) Passenger Retailing System. Sky Angkor Airlines is the first airline to migrate onto TravelSky's new QUICK platform which was launched at the end of 2017. QUICK PRS was developed over a period of 2 years, and supports the initiative of increasing TravelSky's global presence.

Radixx launches new departure control system suite 'Radixx Go'
Radixx has announced the launch of their new departure control system in partnership with Ink Aviation. Radixx & Ink Aviation have combined their skills to develop a cloud based DCS product suite 'Radixx Go' that provides airlines with new mobile and self-service technology. 'Radixx Go' enables passenger touch points on multiple devices thus moving DCS closer to the passenger.

Sunwing Airlines chooses Radixx for PSS
Radixx has annouced their newest airline customer, Sunwing Airlines. The airline will migrate to Radixx PSS & EZY IBE.

Cambodia Airways chooses Radixx for PSS
Start-up carrier Cambodia Airways commenced operations on 10th July 2018 and is the first airline to go live on the Radixx NextGen retailing platform.

T2RL's research highlights 4.18 billion passengers in 2017
T2RL have now completed their annual research exercise into global passenger volumes. The findings are based on a bottom up approach (airline by airline) and take into account 1100+ carriers. T2RL's growth for passenger volumes from 2016 is 7.7%.

PROS and SAP Hybris team up for the next generation PSS and airline commerce
PROS and SAP Hybris have announced a partnership that will deliver a valid alternative for airlines seeking a solution for e-commerce and NDC compatible connections. All that's missing now is the DCS for a complete solution set and participation in the PSS market place. Most important was the demonstration at the PROS Outperform customer event of the rearward compatibility with edifact messages. This provides airlines with the ability to manage the transition to a modern digital platform and maintain part of the industry network. PROS investment in Vayant delivers priced availability, SAP's Hybris delivers the merchandising and context for attracting customers. This is an exciting development for the airline industry and will provide some impetus towards a new offer and order based architecture.

Pakistan International Airlines chooses Hitit for PSS
Pakistans national carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has signed a contract with Hitit for its passenger service system on 18th April 2018. PIA will migrate to Hitits Crane platform from its current Sabre reservation system that the airline has used for the past two decades. PIA flew over 4 million passengers in 2017, and will serve as Hitits second largest PSS customer after Pegasus Airlines. No date for migration was provided in the press release.

Jin Air migrates to IBS
Jin Air has completed their migration to IBS PSS (iFly Res) on Sunday 25th March 2018. IBS migrated Jin Air off two systems; Amadeus which was used for International and Korean Airlines TOPAS system which was used for Domestic. This contract with IBS was signed in June 2017 and the migration took just under 9 months. Jin Air is IBS's second Korean airline customer and having carried close to 8.6 million passengers in the year 2017, Jin Air now serves as IBS's second largest iFly customer after SunExpress. Jin Air will also be migrating to their loyalty platform (iFly Loyalty) later in the year.

Philippine Airlines chooses Amadeus as its PSS
Philippine Airlines have chosen to migrate to Amadeus from Sabre. No date for migration was provided in the press release. Philippine Airlines flew over 14 million passengers in 2017 according to statistics published by the Philippine Civil Aviation Board in February 2018. T2RL are unable to comment on any detail about the strategy, decision and project as Philippine Airlines used T2RL's "Procure IT" solutions to issue the RFP and manage the negotiation and contracting process.

Aeromexico extends Sabre PSS contract
Aeromexico have announced an extension of their contract with Sabre. According to the press release Aeromexico carried some 21 million passengers in 2017. Aeromexico have been growing at an compound annual growth rate of about 6%. No details were included in the press release on the term of the extension to the agreement.

Japan Airlines Migrates to Amadeus
Last night Japan Airlines completed their migration to the Amadeus Altea PSS. The program of work was one of the longest for Amadeus with significant development required to complete the necessary gaps for operation of the Altea platform in the Japanese market. The Amadeus cutover is a significant step forward in the retirement of the JALCOM system. Japan Airlines will roll out the Amadeus departure control system (DCS) over a period of time which limits the potential for disruption and provides for a smoothing of migration resources.

Flybe chooses Amadeus for PSS from 2019 onwards
Flybe and Amadeus have announced a partnership to deliver the core digital infrastructure to support the airline's transformation under the leadership of CIO, Peter Hauptvogel and CEO, Christine Ourmières-Widener. Hauptvogel is one of the most experienced airline CIOs in implementation and migration. Flybe will be moving from DXC's Shares platform towards the end of the year of 2018. The loss of another Shares customer will leave DXC with two major customers United and Copa at the end of 2018.

Sabre renews PSS contract with Ethiopian Airlines
Sabre have renewed their contract for supply of PSS with Ethiopian Airlines. T2RL believe that the extension takes Ethiopian out of the addressable market until at least 2024 and secures an important revenue stream for Sabre going forward with this ambitious and fast growing airline.

PROS acquires Vayant
PROS have made the step from revenue management and dynamic pricing to a full offer management solution set by acquiring Vayant. PROS are by far the market leader in the provision of revenue management technology to airlines as measured by total passengers boarded. The acquisition of Vayant creates significant new opportunities for PROS to expand their footprint in their customers and challenge the PSS providers for priced availability as a cloud based service. This offering is particularly relevant today as airlines look to new ways of doing business including IATA's NDC and One Order.

American Airlines to pay agents an NDC Incentive of $2.00 per segment for AA marketed flights
American Airlines (AA) has led the charge to direct connections and always been willing to take on the challenges associated with GDS distribution. This step is a move to incentivise those agents and drive adoption of the NDC standard. By paying $2 per segment for all AA marketed flights they are now competing with the GDS in some segments of the agency market that currently receive little or nothing in terms of incentives. T2RL's research suggests that GDS incentive money is not evenly spread. The OTAs and larger TMCs receive far more than their fair share of the booking fee incentives. This allows smaller agents to compete with their larger rivals with AA content.

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