Irish agents were left both angry and confused over reports that Aer Lingus had signed deals with two GDSs giving them greater access to their fares.
Galileo, the major GDS in Ireland, said in a statement that Aer Lingus would be providing it with “broad access to the airline's fares on a global basis.”
It went onto claim that under the deal “designated corporate customers will have full access to Aer Lingus content through Galileo-powered management companies in Ireland and the UK.”
Sabre said its two year deal with the carrier would enable it to “make more of the airline's published fares available to Sabre Connected agents.”
The deals came just over a year after Aer Lingus which has converted itself into a low cost carrier withdrew its fares from European GDSs.
One agent told BTE: “Aer Lingus have categorically denied to me that any fares which have been withdrawn from the GDS will be put back there.
“The statements from Galileo and Sabre seem to be totally misleading. There seems to be a totally different interpretation by Aer Lingus and Galileo on what has been agreed.
“Galileo seem to have a notion that by leaving “corporate deal” fares in the CRS that they will get loads of bookings. However very few Aer Lingus “corporate deal” fares are now used as clients simply buy the cheapest fare available.
“It seems to me nothing has changed at least in the Irish market.”
Another agent commented that Aer Lingus's “official line” was that only corporate fares would be in the GDS.
He added: “I believe this is a very cynical move by Aer Lingus. They may be trying to retain market share they may be losing in other European markets due to their web-only strategy, but more importantly it may well be an attempt to "secretly" provide full GDS access to the five or six biggest corporate travel agencies in Ireland to the exclusion of all others.
“They attempted to do this last in late 2003 but agents found out and commenced legal action against them so they withdrew the facility in February 2004.
“They released full content to selected agents, saying that they were "corporate fares" exclusively for selected blue chip clients - however what they actually did was give full unlimited content to the agents involved.
Maybe that's not what's happening here but with any trust now long-gone it's an option that I believe they could be revisiting.”
Aer Lingus told BTE that no fares which had been withdrawn from the GDSs would be put back.
A spokeswoman added: “Outside Ireland and the UK, Galileo and Sabre will have full access to Aer Lingus content. Within Ireland and the UK we have agreed that they will access aerlingus.com for all fares information. The fares we are talking about are corporate and interlining fares.”
* Three top Aer Lingus executives, Willie Walsh, ceo, Seamus Kearney, chief operations officer and Brian Dunne, finance director resigned this week just a month after the government rejected their plans for a management buy-out of the state–owned carrier.
The three will stay in post until their contracts expire next May.