By the end of the year, Air Canada will implement a new booking system in collaboration with Amadeus.
The existing booking system is approximately 40 years old.
So, what exactly, will be changed? PAX spoke with François Choquette, director, revenue management, transatlantic routes, Air Canada.
For starters, travel agents should note that it's not just the Air Canada reservation system that will change. The Amadeus Altéa suite (to which Air Canada has joined) is an integral passenger management system (PSS). In addition to booking solutions, this platform includes other solutions (inventory management, departure control, and ticketing, for example).
In addition to the PSS, Air Canada will also implement several other Amadeus solutions, like its Anytime Merchandising, which will offer personalized offers tailored to the individual preferences of travelers.
Like an open heart surgery
François Choquette notes that a careful analysis preceded Air Canada's decision to partner with Amadeus.
"Our assessment was based on the features offered," he says.
It was also noted that the majority of Air Canada Star Alliance business partners are already using Amadeus Altéa suite .
As welcome as they are, the changes announced are not an easy task for Air Canada.
"50 million passengers means 50 million people go through the reservation system. Changing that is as delicate as open-heart surgery," commented François Choquette.
Thus, the implementation of the new system transforms the work tools of many CA employees: booking agents at the call centre, counter agents at the airport, dispatchers, and so forth, which means in turn, teams must be trained accordingly.
Same look, different feel
That said, as far as travel agents are concerned, there is no revolution on the horizon, reassures François Choquette.
"The pipes will have been changed, but the machine will look essentially the same," he says.
For non-IATA agencies that use consolidator services, the change will be imperceptible. There will be no major changes for agencies connected to Saber or TravelPort (Apollo, Galileo, Wordspan).
And for the agencies connected to Amadeus? According to Choquette, they will notice a certain positive difference, to the extent that "a better synchronization will be possible between the partition of the agency and that of the airline."
In addition, these agencies will have access to some more advanced features, like when booking groups, for example.
But the implementation of the new system will not force agencies to specifically train their employees or revise their working methods, insists the director.
Shifting the balance
There's one exception to the rule: agencies that decide to switch from Saber to Amadeus. In this regard, remember that although Amadeus dominates in Europe, it is currently the third system used by agencies in Canada, after those of Saber and TravelPort.
Therefore, a question arises: could the association between Amadeus and the largest airline in the country lead to changes in the relationship between Canadian agencies and their preferred GDS provider?
"The partnership between Air Canada and Amadeus could upset the balance between the three major GDSs in Canada," concludes Choquette.