lanned Web Site of Four Big Carriers
from The Wall street Journal 13th Jan 2000.

Nearly two dozen U.S. and foreign airlines have signed up to offer tickets, including discounted Internet-only special fares.on a Web site being created by UAL Corp's United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines and Continental Airlines. .According to Boston Consulting Group,which is developing the site, "associate" members include AMR Corp's American Airlines and US Airways Group Inc. Boston Consulting is expected to announce the roster of new airlines today. "The consumer proposition of going to one place and finding not only the standard fares but the Internet-only fares of the six largest domestic airlines and 21 other airlines is unique," said Ben Burnett, a vice president of Boston Consulting.

Aside from American and US Air, six smaller U.S. carriers also came aboard, including American Trans Air, Hawaiian Airlines and Midwest Express Airlines. Among the foreign carriers are Air Canada, Air New Zealand, Alitalia, All Nippon Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Varig, the consulting firm, based in Boston, said.

Led by United and Delta, the site was announced in November as a competitive answer to, Expedia Inc. and other Web sites that appeal to independent-minded travellers. The four airline founders plan to invest a total of more than $100 million in the site, which will be managed independently of the four to help ensure neutrality and avoid antitrust concerns. Boston Consulting, which is acting as temporary launch manager, said it is recruiting a management team. The addition of America, the nation's second-largest carrier, is noteworthy because it comes at a time when its parent, AMR, of Fort Worth, Texas, is in the process of spinning off Sabre Holdings Corp., operator of Travelocity. Independence from Sabre gives American more latitude in the Internet arena. The new site is expected to start up during the second quarter. Mr. Burnett said Boston Consulting fully expectsî to announce more airlines and hotels, car-rental agencies and tour companies as associates in the future. "It would support our business model if they supplied special Internet-only capacity," he said.

Travelers looking for special Internet fares usually must maneuver between the various individual airline sites to catch the discounts, although a few sites do pull together selected Internet fares by using "screen-scraping" technology to surf the airlines' own sites. By having 27 carriers make available comprehensive seat inventories at fares as low as or lower than those available from any other source, the new site will raise the bar for one-stop shopping, Boston Consulting said.

Airlines have invested heavily in their own and other Web sites because it is far cheaper to sell tickets online than through their own reservations centers or through travel agents. But the process is often cumbersome, which means that many more consumers "look" than actually "book" online. An analysis last year of the largest 20 U.S. travel Web sites by electronic-business consultants Quidnunc Group PLC found that none did a very good job of offering a hassle-free experience to travelers.

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