I am sure that you have heard the word GDS plenty of times when discussing about airlines. What does GDS mean? What can it do? Let's find out.
GDS is the acronym for Global Distribution System. A GDS enables an airline to sell its tickets via travel agents.
The GDS evolved from the concept of the CRS ( Computer Reservation System ). As airlines expanded their reach globally, the CRSes had to too. The answer was the GDS.
GDSes are owned by large corporations or groups of airlines and act as the cornerstone of the flight booking process between airlines and the travel agencies. The airline uploads its flight details ( available seats, fare classes etc. ) to the GDS and the travel agency can then use these data to book its customers on those flights.
GDSes usually consist of four layers:
1. Inventory display and management
2. Pricing and fare search engines
3. Ticketing and document generators
4. Database reporting engines
Some of the most popular GDSes are Sabre, Amadeus and Galileo.
Low cost carriers generally do not use GDSes and instead rely on their own methods to sell tickets, in order to save on the distribution costs. With the advent of the LCCs and their solely web based flight booking, the GDSes have been threatened too. This is lead by the fact that the web based systems save the airlines a lot of money that would have otherwise been spent on travel agency commissions via the GDS. However, the GDS' ability to reach regions with low internet penetration has helped the GDSes retain their leading position.
The GDS remains a critical part to any airline's operation.