Sunday, August 30, 2009

Amadeus Common IT Platform May Have Been Too Common for American Airlines

On the same day, Aug. 26, that Amadeus IT Group President and CEO David Jones was introducing former President Bill Clinton at the high-profile NBTA conference in San Diego, Amadeus was forced to issue a statement reinforcing its commitment "to airline IT in the North American marketplace..."

The awkward juxtaposition occurred because American Airlines chose that day to announce that HP had signed a letter of intent to develop a new passenger service system, Jetstream, for American, replacing the Sabre host system.

For months, Sabre knew it had been out of the running to get the new contract, and the competition had been narrowed down to HP and Amadeus.

The timing of the HP-AA announcement has people scratching their heads.

Was there a pointed message there for Amadeus? Seemingly so.

While the impetus for American's decision undoubtedly was complex and based on numerous factors, one reason making the rounds is that the Amadeus common IT platform, adopted by Star Alliance carriers and used by some of American's partners in Oneworld, including BA and Iberia, takes a sort of community-governance approach.

In other words, airlines using the platform, which is based on the Amadeus Altea Suite, have a say in establishing development priorities, even voting on major platform decisions.

And, American, according to a source, bristled at the idea of being somewhat of a commoner in this regard within the Amadeus common IT platform set-up.

One little matter starkly absent in Amadeus' statement on its ongoing commitment to the North American market was mention of its 2005 deal to replace Travelport's Apollo system as the host for United Airlines.

Forrester Research analyst Henry Harteveldt said United decided some time ago to go slow on the transition to Amadeus out of cost concerns and on-again, off-again banter about merging with Continental.

Harteveldt said United's move to Amadeus may never take place and the absence of an established carrier client in North America hurt Amadeus' wooing of American.

Harteveldt wrote an excellent piece in the Forrester Blog, detailing the context of American's move to HP.

As we know from United's stilted transition to Amadeus, replacing an airline reservations system is a gargantuan, problematic task, and so far HP merely has signed a letter of intent to get the ball rolling with American.

Another example of host-system interruptus was Air Canada's recent decision to put the brakes on its host-system development contract with ITA Software.

Meanwhile, Sabre, born out of American Airlines and still counting the carrier as among its largest customers, can take solace that any transition to HP will be protracted.

But, as any kid will tell you, it still really hurts to be shunned by a parent.

1 comment:

Harold Harrison said...

HP and American will shoot themselves in the foot in attempting to build a new RES system from scratch without experienced developers. HP has no knowledge of this business and mediocre developers. American would've been smart to go with ITA as their developers are some of the best and smartest in the world. (MIT PhD's)