08 September 2008

Sabre announces SabreSonic CSS - Unbundled Pricing

Those students of PSS systems will know that the world has been turning pretty fast these days.

With the exit of Lufthansa Systems after it cancelled its next generation product FACE, the market is concentrated into a few players. For a quick roundup here are the major players. A disclaimer - there are other systems out there - I am selectively providing a view on only the most numerous.

For the major providers - Amadeus is clearly the leader in sales in its next-gen ALTEA system, although the core inventory product is the venerable BABS host that Amadeus acquired from British Airways (but hush don't tell anyone I told you that!). With so many airlines signed up - it is hard to see how they can deliver so many carriers. Sabre has been noted to have discussed alternatives with Unisys (and its AirCore system that was to have been the basis for LSY's FACE product). Unisys is acknowledging only 2 customers - ANA and HahnAir. Navitaire's NewSkies (to replace the HPUX based OpenSkies system) is clearly pitched at the low cost market, it lacks many features required in a full service system. SITA's approach has been to adopt a development incremental to its Atlanta hosted system now renamed Horizon. One other major new player is ITA Software who is developing Polaris for Air Canada that wont see the light of day till 2009. EDS has sunset Atraxis that it acquired from SwissAir and is instead continuuing its path of developing SHARES the former Continental system. Which leaves us with Sabre.

Sabre seems to have abandoned hope of a true next gen system and instead will leverage its existing investment with incremental products. Today the first major announcement is or the SabreSonic CSS.

One key characteristic seems to be the focus on the actual consumer independently of the channel of distribution. The product will allow differentiated pricing by channel and by flight type. Of course the ability of the GDS and the ancillary behind the scenes systems (such as OAG and ATPCO or Innovata) to accommodate this remains to be seen. Still its a step in the right direction. It clearly signals Sabre's intention to remain competitive in the marketplace. However they face a big uphill battle for share.

Our view at T2Impact is that there needs to be more done in adapting a commercial model that addresses the airlines needs in today's (and future) economic climate. True Distribution Management Control systems remain elusive and hard to implement with these systems. Many carriers therefore are adopting a wait and see attitude. However that exposes them to difficulties as they struggle to manage ever increasing complexity of distribution with their creaking older systems.

A successful environment demands attention and focus. This is not something you should be outsourcing to a third party. The development of new distribution systems that acknowledge a complex web based world forces a re-think in distribution management and true PSS solutions.

If this is interesting to you give me a call


1 comment:

Ian Tunnacliffe said...

Hi Timothy,

If you really think that Amadeus is still using the BABS inventory for anyone you need more help than I thought.

Now BABS DCS, that's a different story.