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Distribution deals with Amadeus and Galileo have been signed by easyJet as the low fares carrier targets more business travellers.

Corporate travel agencies will be able to view and book flights alongside other carriers to make comparisons and bookings.

EasyJet will apply a point-of-sale fee - the same principle applies to all non-internet sales, such as telephone and airport sales - to the cost of the air fare.

This is the first time a major European low-fares airline has made its inventory available to the GDS providers.

Amadeus is carrying out detailed pilots in Germany, France, Spain and UK which will end in November.

As soon as those pilots are concluded, Amadeus will make easyJet flights available to all eligible agencies worldwide.

EasyJet flights will also be available through Galileo in the UK by the end of the year and the rest of Europe in the new year.

EasyJet chief executive Andy Harrison said the airline needed to appeal to time sensitive passengers travelling to and from major airports.

"EasyJet has been expanding in primary airports and our acquisition of GB Airways increases our share at Gatwick to 29% of the short-haul capacity. The time is right for us to extend our distribution and these agreements are a milestone in the development of our business," he said.

Harrison declined to say how much business was likely to increase by but said he did expect improvement in yield.

Corporations and travel management companies booking easyJet via the new technology will pay an administration fee of 7.50 euro per segment. The fee, which is to be shared between the airline and the two GDS, will drop to 5 euros for multiple sectors.

Harrison also said he saw no reason why the airline could not reach a similar distribution agreement with Sabre.

Galileo's Bryan Conway - EMEA managing director for Travelport GDS - said that while 36% of European traffic goes through low-cost airlines only about 1% is distributed through a GDS.

"The GDS is about the display and aggregation content so by definition the more we bring the more value we add. Travel agents want this and are crying out for an easy integrated and more reliable way to access easyJet."

Conway added that Jetblue's participation in a GDS in the US had led to $100 million in revenue this year, with 60% coming from new customers.

Amadeus and Galileo have separately delivered new technology to connect each GDS directly to easyJet’s inventory, allowing agents to make bookings on the airline.

The airline aims to grow its proportion of business passengers, currently at around 20%, through the "managed business travel segment", which is largely booked by travel agencies through GDSs, a statement said.

Harrison said: "This is a major step forward in our strategy to attract more business travellers.

"EasyJet has always appealed to businesses by offering an excellent high-frequency, flexible product between Europe’s major airports and now Europe’s travel managers and their clients can book with easyJet, therefore removing the last barrier to the corporate travel market.

"EasyJet will maintain its direct sell business strategy, by adding a point-of-sale fee we can ensure our website remains our primary distribution channel and fares will always be cheapest when booking direct online.

"However, even with the point-of-sale fee, easyJet seats sold through the GDS will still be dramatically cheaper than those offered on any of the traditional airlines."

Amadeus commercial executive vice-president David Jones said: "This agreement with easyJet underscores and validates the effort we have made to understand and offer a tailor-made solution for the low fare airline segment.

"We have built a solution that connects the GDS directly to the inventory of ticketless carriers, enabling them to distribute efficiently through the GDS. Using this technology we can now offer business travel agencies key easyJet content, with a booking process that is integrated directly into their regular work process."

Conway added: "By integrating easyJet’s services directly into our core GDS, we are able to offer even richer content to our business travel agents and their customers.

"Galileo can now provide agents with the same straightforward and highly efficient way to book this content as they have with other airlines, whilst also offering today’s low-cost carriers with a simplified means to distribute to the travel trade."

by Phil Davies and Linda Fox


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