British Airways and Air France yesterday announced a partnership with nine other leading European airlines to create an online travel agency. Their main objective is to slash ticketing and distribution costs – although other customer services such as insurance, car rental and hotel reservations will also be on offer.

In addition to BA and Air France, the consortium comprises Aer Lingus, Alitalia, Austrian Airlines Group, British Midland, Finnair, Iberia, KLM, Lufthansa and SAS.

The new site will be independently managed with the aim of countering opposition on anti-competitive grounds, and members claim they will not exchange pricing data. Nevertheless, the venture could be bad tidings for existing online travel agencies – not least whose shares fell 11% following the news.

According to BA, the venture will give European travellers access to low fares on a large international network and revolutionise the way they plan and book air travel.

News source: Financial Times