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National Business Travel Association

Business travel buyers will foot the bill for a fragmented travel distribution system

The National Business Travel Association (NBTA), the voice of the business travel industry, today commented on Sabre’s announcement regarding American Airlines:

“Today’s news from Sabre represents a serious escalation of the growing conflict around airline-mandated “direct connects”, said Mike McCormick, Executive Director and COO, National Business Travel Association.  “Business travel buyers will ultimately foot the bill for marketplace fragmentation caused by airline initiatives that push the travel distribution marketplace in the wrong direction – away from transparency and competitiveness and toward confusion and higher costs.”

NBTA believes that “direct connect” proposals will lead to higher costs for two main reasons:

1) Airline mandated “direct connects” that bypass the existing distribution systems will result in a significant increase in capital expenditure that business travel buyers will eventually bear. Travel management companies and agencies will need to build new systems to capture these "direct connect" fares on behalf of their business travel clients, resulting in higher costs overall. 

2) Businesses that rely on clear and transparent fare information to negotiate for and maintain airline discount programs will find it far more difficult to track volume and enforce travel policies in a fragmented market. This will ultimately result in higher costs for business travel buyers.

“The current system for business travel procurement is marked by transparency, access and competition,” said McCormick. “Any changes to this system must continue to provide business travel purchasers with the information they need to make informed travel investment decisions. NBTA calls on all airlines with an interest in the business travel market to ensure their fares are made widely available to buyers through commonly-used distribution channels.”

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