Southwest finally took the leap into the global distribution systems network through agreements with Travelport and Amadeus. The airline’s Southwest Business brand will begin to provide content and full booking capabilities with an aim to become fully operational through these channels by mid-2020.
The new agreement allows travel managers the ability to book, change, cancel, and modify reservations.
The announcement was made yesterday at the annual Global Business Travelers Association (GBTA) conference in Chicago and comes as a greater effort on the airline’s part to develop its business-focused operations. The partnership is a departure from the carrier’s choice to not participate in these channels over its nearly five decades of operations, except for the releasing a limited amount of inventory through Sabre.
“The GDS is a channel that has been lagging for us, so now Southwest is launching industry wide distribution capabilities with two great partners,” said Southwest president Tom Nealon. “This is going to be at the highest level of participation and hopefully all running by 2020. We’ve made massive changes to our SWAbiz platform with more to come. So whatever the channel, Southwest will be there with our content and our capabilities and people. All this is under one name: Southwest Business.”
By increasing the company’s participation within these channels to the highest level, travel managers and travel management companies will have access to more of the airlines’ fares and flight schedules. Southwest expects this new revenue initiative to provide incremental improvements in pre-tax results in the range of $10 million to $20 million in the second half of 2020. Southwest is also partnering with ARC to implement industry-standard processes to handle the reporting and settlement of tickets booked.
Meanwhile, Southwest Business also continues investing and enhancing its online booking tool, SWABIZ®. With recent upgrades, the site has become a one-stop shopping experience with air, car, and hotel booking functions. SWABIZ recently introduced more robust reporting tools aimed at putting corporate travel managers in control of their organization’s travel programs.