History of Global Distribution Systems (GDS)

The airline industry created the first GDS in the 1960s as a way to keep track of flight schedules, availability, and prices. Although accused of being “dinosaurs” due to their use of legacy system technology, the GDSs were actually among the first e-commerce companies in the world facilitating B2B electronic commerce as early as the mid 1970s, when SABRE (owned by American Airline) and Apollo (United) began installing their propriety internal reservations systems in travel agencies.
Prior to this, travel agents spent an inordinate amount of time manually entering reservations and pricing itineraries referring to tariff books published by ATPCO. The airlines realized that by automating the reservation process for travel agents, they could make the travel agents more productive and essentially turn into an extension of the airline’s sales force. It is these original, legacy GDSs that today provide the backbone to the Internet travel distribution system.
As you know that there are four major GDS systems:

In addition, there are several smaller or regional GDSs, including SITA’s Sahara, Infini (Japan), Axess (Japan), Tapas (Korea), Fantasia (South Pacific), and Abacus (Asia/Pacific) that serve interests or specific regions or countries. Though the ownership of the travel distribution companies keeps changing, let us take a closer look at ORIGIN of the four major GDSs.

Founded in 1987 by Air France, Iberia, Lufthansa, and SAS, Amadeus is the youngest of the four GDS companies. Amadeus is a leading global distribution system and technology provider serving the marketing, sales, and distribution needs of the world’s travel and tourism industries. Its comprehensive data network and database, among the largest of their kind in Europe, serve more than 87,000 travel agency locations and more than 12,500 airline sales offices in some 250 markets worldwide. The system can also provide access to approximately 80,000 hotels and 60 car rental companies serving some 54,000 locations, as well as other provider groups, including ferry, rail, cruise, insurance, and tour operators.
Amadeus appears to be adapting well to the shift of business to the Internet. Backed by an early acquisition of e-Travel, Inc. from Oracle Corporation in July of 2001, Amadeus had a new business unit dedicated to delivering solutions to e-commerce players worldwide. The e-Travel solutions integrate all components of a managed travel program into a single Internet-based service that enables travelers to book air, car, hotel, and rail services, all within corporate guidelines. As with its competitors, the future for Amadeus will continue to be linked to the technological and structural changes that are revolutionizing the travel industry.

Galileo global travel distribution system is also known as the Apollo system in North America and Japan. Galileo International was founded in 1993 by 11 major North American and European airlines: Aer Lingus, Air Canada, Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Olympic Airlines, Swissair, TAP Air Portugal, United Airlines, and US Airways. It is a major player in the GDS business throughout the world: North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia/Pacific region.

Galileo International is a diversified, global technology leader. Its core business is providing electronic global distribution services for the travel industry through its computerized reservation systems, leading-edge products and innovative Internet-based solutions. Galileo is a cautious follower when it comes to technology. However, in response to the growing demand of web-based travel, the company has established various successful relationships with entities providing Internet-based tools and services to the corporate travel market; by Sheperd Systems, an industry leader in the provision of sales and marketing intelligence systems and services within the travel industry. Galileo is a value-added distributor of travel inventory dedicated to supporting its travel agency and corporate customers and, through them, expanding traveler choice.

For more than 40 years, Sabre has been developing innovations and transforming the business of travel. From the original Sabre computer reservations system in the 1960s, to advanced airline yield management systems in the 1980s, to leading travel web sites today, Sabre technology has traveled through time, around the world, and has touched all points of the travel industry.

In July of 1996, Sabre became a separate legal entity of AMR (parent company of American Airlines), followed by a successful initial public offering in October in which AMR released approximately 18% of its shares to be publicly traded. Sabre, represented in 45 countries, is a leading provider of technology for the travel industry and provides innovative products that enable travel commerce and services, and enhance airline/supplier operations. Sabre owns Travelocity.com, the industry’s leading online consumer travel web site. Sabre also owns Get There, a provider of web-based corporate travel procurement, including the purchase of air, hotel, car, and meeting planning services.

Founded February 7, 1990, Worldspan was originally owned by affiliates of Delta Air Lines, Inc. (40%), Northwest Airlines (34%), and American Airlines, Inc. (26%). Since its 1995 advance into the world of Internet technology for the travel industry, Worldspan has successfully developed the strategies, solutions, and services to ensure the company’s long-term success in the new web-based world of travel distribution. Worldspan provides worldwide electronic distribution of travel information, Internet products and connectivity, and e-commerce capabilities for travel agencies, travel service providers, and corporations.

Worldspan has a legacy of industry firsts that are not well known. In 2001, Orbitz LLC was launched on the Internet, using Worldspan as its Internet Booking Engine, and in 2002, the launch of Worldspan ePricingSM made Worldspan the first GDS to introduce a revolutionary new multi-server-based technology, offering an unprecedented selection of pricing options to all of Worldspan’s customers.


Anonymous said…
Dear Author www.traveltecnik.com !
Very amusing opinion
Anonymous said…
I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
And you et an account on Twitter?
sumit kher said…
Hi, just completed my B.E. and now I am interested in going for GDS online training and that too in airlines. So, basically I am confused about certain things as which I came across that there are cetain different GDS like amadeus, Galileo, Sabre and some others. I found out that above are the one in demand and so just came across this online training http://www.wiziq.com/course/1610-amadeus-airlines-reservations-and-pnr-management-course-1 and was wondering as this online training will help me to prepare of I have to go for any other Manual training. Kindly provide some light on this too! would really be thankful for your comments.
Valueable for Information...If there is any other post related this kindly inform me...

Hotel Distribution Company
Anonymous said…
Hi Sumit, it is based on the region that you would be working in, but the most GDS in demand at the moment are Amadeus and Galileo. Sabre too would be helpful but based in certain regions such as USA & Middle East. Here they use Sabre as a common GDS system. Middle Eastern agency also secondarily use Galileo too. So it is entire up to you. But best recommended is Galileo and Amadues. Once you learn these two or any one the others also become easier to learn as you would know the basics.

Hope this helps.
Unknown said…
can you please help me know Travelport api provides pnr details?
Brilltech Group is an internationally awarded Distribution System Manufacturer in India. We use unique technology to ensure that we provide world-class high-quality distribution panels cost effectively.

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