Worldspan, the number four of the four major Global Distribution Systems or GDSs, has long had one indisputable boast: it may not be visible universally but that's because it's in the back office everywhere. Worldspan is the power behind many of the best-known consumer sites, and travellers and buyers are often using Worldpsan when they're dealing with a trusted outlet or bargain-hunting.
One of the best-known nameplates that Worldspan has long powered is Expedia, the former unit of Barry Diller's InterActive Corp. empire. Diller bought Expedia from its developers, Microsoft, and making the site a 'must-go-to' for early adapters, before spinning off Expedia earlier this year.) Worldspan is also the power behind Orbitz.
Now though the Atlanta-based Worldspan is taking it on the digital chin, the latest blow coming as AirTran takes its entire inventory off of Expedia, a major source of Worldspan revenue. The profitable low-cost carrier, also based in
The news comes just two weeks after AirTran reached a deal with the largest GDS, Sabre, in a pact that AirTran's chief executive Joe Leonard calls a real breakthrough on costs and a boon for Sabre's Travelocity unit. The news also comes just a month after two of Worldspan's largest airline customers (and former owners), Delta and Northwest, each went into bankruptcy reorganisation and weeks after Worldspan's single largest customer, Orbitz, sued Worldspan in what is widely seen as a prelude to ending the relationship entirely. And Orbitz, incidentally, is owned by Cendant, which means it would make sense for it to use sister Cendant subsidiary Galileo, not Worldspan. The woes just won't end for Worldspan