20 August 2011

The Impact of AA Out Of Expedia and Orbitz

The impact of American Airlines non-participation in Expedia and Orbitz during the period from the end of 2010 until restored by agreement (Expedia) and by a judge's order (Orbitz) was interesting in theory. But what about it in practice?

For the absence of ambiguity. The chart shows share sales and percentage increase/decrease in sales of airline tickets. This is transactions NOT sales dollars so they are a true like for like comparison. The source is ARC Corp. The full chart can be seen here. That bulging green line (downwards) represents a significant loss of airline ticket sales from Expedia and Orbitz. Far greater than I believe most people expected. With air revenue comprising such a small amount of Expedia's gross revenues - this did not adversely affect the Bellevue based company. For Orbitz however that does depend more on US Airline sales the impact as we have seen from the recent financial performance of OWW was significant to their bottom line.

This illustration is pretty dramatic and clear. In my view it shows two things.

1. That a single airline's withdrawal from key players in a specific market sector from one or more players who command 50% of that sector can be dramatic.
2. Even after restoration - the intermediary channels as a whole lose share.

There are other interesting things that can be read from this chart. Share does come back. Albeit slowly, but it does come back. it also shows that the OTA's expectation that the AA share would easily be absorbed by consumers switching to other airlines was false. The dramatic drop in tickets as illustrated by this chart is obviously not reflected in AA's total ticket sales loss.

There are many lessons in this chart. I leave you to draw your own conclusions. If you would like to discuss this directly with the Professor. Please see me after class.


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