Thursday, March 08, 2007

Travolution@ITBPhoCusWright - No more legacy, but no answers

Google gets a breather at last. It's time for the airlines to get some airtime here in Berlin, rather than what appears to plenty of muttering about the search giant's ambitions in the travel sector.

We'll ask Esteban Walther [Google] later on, promises PhoCusWright boss Philip Wolf.

William Phillipson from Boston-based tech-house ITA Software takes the stage to highlight the plight of the airlines and their so-called legacy systems.

"There is a mish-mash of systems from over 50 years", he says, including reservation kits, e-commerce, remote access and, more recently, remote access, web and e-ticketing.

The problem with such a plethora of systems is pretty fundamental, Phillipson says. Each piece of kit contains a different customer database, but now the now vastly empowered consumer needs far better servicing, airline legacy technology is just not up to the job.

ITA, understandably, wants to peddle its own "solution", but the panel for the talkback session has meatier issues on its mind.

"Why should we switch?" asks Sigmundur Halldorsson from Icelandair during the talkback session, which uses the Amadeus platform.

"I would not be able to comment on your relationship with Amadeus," Phillipson says, much to the disappointment of the audience. And to paraphrase a reasonably convoluted answer: "Functionality, value and cost."

An delegate asks, via the text system, if ITA has designs on being one of the so-called GNEs (mini-GDSs).

Cue a rather nervous-looking Phillipson, who only answers when the question comes in again from Martin Ruschen (Lufthansa Systems), another member of the panel.

"G2Switchworks is an excellent customer of ours. We are a technology provider and will be willing to talk to anybody out there." Doesn't really answer the question really...

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

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