American Airlines and Orbitz are back in business, together again.
Just three days after Orbitz had stopped displaying American flights on its consumer websites, and three days before US Airways flights were set to disappear as well, the dust-up between American and Orbitz was over and travelers could resume booking American fares on Orbitz.
The official announcements from both companies were terse, neither giving any clue as to which had gotten the upper hand in the negotiations.
Per American: “American Airlines Group Inc. announced that American Airlines fares will return to Orbitz on Friday after the companies earlier today entered into a letter of intent. American Airlines Group also no longer plans to remove US Airways fares from Orbitz on Sept. 1 as previously announced. The companies are working toward final agreements based on the letter of intent.”
And from Orbitz’s news release: “We are pleased that our long-standing relationship with American Airlines allowed us to quickly resolve business matters and that we continue to offer a broad range of options, including American Airlines and US Airways flights, to the millions of shoppers who book travel on our global sites each day.”
Happy talk notwithstanding, it’s likely that the new deal means that American will be paying Orbitz lower commissions, in keeping with the airline’s bid to lower distribution costs. In the end, Orbitz needs American and US Airways flights in its inventory mix more than American needs Orbitz as a distribution channel. Southwest already does just fine without sales assistance from Orbitz or other online travel agencies. Losing American and US Airways would go a long way toward marginalizing Orbitz as a source for airline bookings.
Whatever the real behind-the-scenes story, the outcome is a positive for consumers, who can continue using Orbitz to price-compare their flight options among a majority of competing airlines.
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.
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