All is far from happy at the European Amadeus air reservations consortium, formed by the four leading European users of Unisys 1100 mainframes in their own reservations system to meet the challenge of the two US giants, American Airlines’ Sabre and United’s Apollo. The four founding airlines, Air France, Lufthansa, Scandinavia Airlines System and Iberia, which despite their own Unisys systems gave the business for the combined system to IBM, are far from happy with progress on the system, reports the Wall Street Journal – especially when they look at the way the rival Galileo system being built by the rival British Airways Plc-led consortium is forging ahead. Rather than try to take on the two US giants, Galileo has teamed up with the Apollo system, buying a 49% stake in it. IBM subcontracted much of the software development work to one of the two smaller, but still substantial, systems, Texas Air Corp’s SystemOne, inherited when that company acquired Eastern Airlines. Now, however, there is serious consideration in the Amadeus camp being given to dumping SystemOne and striking some kind of a deal with American Airlines’ Sabre, which would involve a massive write-off of effort since SystemOne says it has 500 people working full or part-time on the project, and complains that the the project has expanded so much that the time needed to complete it has expanded 500% since it was first mooted. It is not clear whether there is a serious intention to dump SystemOne or whether the threat is simply a very literal piece of Sabre-rattling, because one of the four Amadeus founders, Scandinavian Air, has burned its boats by signing a sweeping co-operation agreement with Texas Air, which envisages joint marketing, sharing of airport terminals and cross-shareholdings and board seats.
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