The Star Alliance has sent requests for proposals (RFPs) to four of the GDS new entrants (GNEs) as part of its drive to cut distribution costs.
The RFPs, sent out two weeks ago, went to the three most prominent GNEs, G2 SwitchWorks, ITA Software and Farelogix and one unnamed other.
Christian Klick, the Alliance's vp corporate affairs, said he expected replies by the end of September.
“We are asking them to come back with their proposals on how to address our initiative to cut costs. We will go through their replies but I am not able to predict what will happen next,” he said.
The Star Alliance, which represents 16 airlines among them Lufthansa and United, decided to make the approach to the GNEs at its bi-annual chief executive board meeting in Japan in June.
Mr Klick said the RFPs were sent out by Star on behalf of all its members. “We want to develop a model of collaboration with such market participants to exploit their capabilities.
“We expect that some of these participants will have the capacity to cut drastically our distribution costs.”
He rejected allegations that the Alliance was only approaching the GNEs in order to persuade the traditional GDSs to give it a better deal. “We would not send out something like this if we were not seriously interested in them,” he said.
The GNE replies will be studied in October and the subject is certain to be on the agenda at the Alliance's next chief executive board meeting in December in Montreal, Canada.
Whatever the decision, the Alliance and its members are still likely to be working with traditional GDS.
It already has a “firm commitment” to work with Amadeus as a preferred vendor on its plans for a common IT platform among members and a deal is expected to be announced soon.
Cendant Travel Distribution Services which owns another of the leading GDSs, Galileo also announced this week that it had extended its partnership with Lufthansa.
The agreement provides global fare parity with all of Lufthansa's direct sales channels and enhanced booking functionality for Galileo-connected travel agents.
Andreas Haug, Lufthansa's general manager cost management sales, said: “We recognize the value of our travel agency channel and we will benefit from the global reach of Galileo whilst ensuring that we achieve our financial objectives
Bryan Conway, Cendant TDS's vp supplier services, added: “It is vital to us that Galileo agents are able to offer their customers the best fares and service and this agreement ensures they can do that.”