In an extraordinary development, arch-rivals Sabre and Amadeus have today (8 August) filed for anti-trust immunity with the European Commission (EC).
The two bitter competitors have asked the EC for anti-trust approval to create a joint venture focusing on non-air operations such as hotels, cruise, tour, car and rail.
Any deal is of course subject to approval by the EC, but a spokeswoman from Sabre in Texas told ABTN that a decision was expected from the European regulators by late in the third quarter.
It also appears that similar anti-trust immunity will not be required in the US. ”This joint venture does not meet the dollar threshold set by Congress to trigger anti-trust,” she said.
The spokeswoman also outlined some of the thinking behind the industry giants' joint venture, although one that interestingly excludes the air business. ”Right now there is no industry standard for payment processes and reconciliation,” she said.
”Both Amadeus and ourselves saw an opportunity to streamline the processes of these [two] groups. The EC filings are public and so we have issued this information jointly.
”I do think it”s fair to say that a [new] name is under discussion and we plan to make a much bigger splash when it [EC filing] is approved.”
Sabre also declined to reveal any cost involved in the joint venture, but both groups employ significant amounts of people ” Sabre, 9,000 in 45 countries and Amadeus, 7,600, although any jobs implication is as yet unclear.
A statement from both companies comes replete with each other”s logos and notes: ”It [joint venture] will integrate the existing financial instruments already used by the travel industry into a multi-channel, multi-GDS platform, which will allow industry players to manage all aspects of their payment needs.”
The proposed deal quite specifically excludes any air business and the spokeswoman outlined why: ”There are currently industry standards for the air segment and they are served well by them, she said. ”Our intent is to establish an industry standard solution for the segments of the travel industry not covered by the BSPs (Billing and Settlement Plan).
Today”s news comes as GDS groupings, Galileo and Worldspan are also waiting for regulatory approval to merge.