American Airlines has claimed a rise in overall ticket sales since its dispute with Orbitz and Expedia as other agencies capitalise on the situation.


The carrier said it had seen a year on year increase in business since December 21 when it pulled distribution through Orbitz.com and three days later when Expedia downgraded American’s search displays


American did not specify the proportion of higher sales.


The airline said: “While the year-over-year increase in ticket sales is roughly comparable to that seen earlier in December, American has noted a shift in ticket sales to other channels, notably online travel agencies, such as Priceline.com, and referrals from metasearch engines, such as Kayak.com, as well as increased volume on its own website, AA.com.”


Vice president and general sales manager Derek DeCross said: “Our results to date show that consumer choice is alive and well and that our customers continue to have thousands of options to purchase American’s competitive fares and convenient schedules.


“It is also clear to us that other online travel sites and traditional travel agencies are capitalising on this market opportunity to gain business.”


But the US-based Business Travel Coalition queried American’s assertions, saying the airline had declined to mention targeted sales initiatives instituted just after the combatants’ actions were taken.


The BTC said: “Orbitz customers were emailed a special offer providing a 20% discount for tickets purchased at aa.com before December 31, 2010. Likewise, Expedia customers were offered a 15% discount for tickets purchased on aa.com prior to December 31, 2010,” the BTC said.
 
“In such a price-sensitive environment for consumers, discounts of this magnitude no doubt increased AA’s bookings likely masking the true negative impact of its actions and business predicament. Indeed, these discounts represent the price AA now has to pay to maintain market share.”


DeCross reiterated that American is committed to working with all distribution channels, including traditional travel agencies, online agencies and global distribution systems, to benefit from adopting its direct connection model, powered by Farelogix, which delivers to travel agencies and their customers more customized travel choices and options.


There is no cost to tap into American’s direct connection.


“Our direct connection offers a path to a new era of buying and selling travel services,” DeCross claimed.


“Traditionally, airline products have consisted of different flavours of air fares. In the future, however, we envision the world of travel evolving into a much wider variety of products and services beyond fares.


“Our direct connection will help travel agencies help their own customers by giving them access to customised choices and delivering the best value to travellers.


“We do not envision a future in which we only sell to our customers through our own branded website.


“Our goal is to have broad distribution channels and choices for our customers, with our products and services delivered efficiently and without unnecessary costs flowing through the process.”