In a further bid to break the monopoly of the Amadeus CRS in Thailand, Singapore-based Abacus is threatening to elevate its battle with the Thai government to a regional trade dispute.

As a measure of intent, Abacus president William Liu has already threatened to wipe Thai Airways flights off the system, although he emphasises the action is 'a last resort'.

Thailand gave Amadeus a 10-year monopoly on travel distribution in 1988 and as a first step to try and break the stranglehold, Abacus teamed up with the state-run Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT) late last year, although no firm agreement was signed. But after a mission to Thailand in late July, brokered by CAT, Liu returned empty handed.

Frustrated at what it terms 'anti-competitive practice', Abacus is expected to lobby other members of Asean to raise the matter and attempt to get individual governments to pressurise Thailand during bilateral trade talks.

Abacus is the Asia-Pacific's main CRS, owned by 11 of the region's airlines, and Liu says Thai is one of the most frequently booked carriers on the system. 'Thai enjoys a very high quality of service and distribution, access and service levels through Abacus in these countries. Our partner carriers are concerned they are not enjoying this sort of quality and service in Thailand,' says Liu.

With travel agents regularly complaining of a six-month wait for additional Amadeus terminals, the majority support access for a second CRS, arguing the competition would be good for Bangkok's status as a major aviation hub linking Europe and Asia.

Source: Airline Business