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DOT ADOPTS REVISED COMPUTER RESERVATION SYSTEM RULES

 DOT ADOPTS REVISED COMPUTER RESERVATION SYSTEM RULES
 WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Secretary of Transportation


Andrew H. Card Jr. today announced a revision to rules governing the computer reservation system (CRS) industry that will benefit the consumer and strengthen airline competition.
 "These rules will enhance the ability of carriers to compete on price and service without denying vendors the legitimate benefits of their investments and without requiring detailed management of CRS operations by the government. This will clearly help the consumer," Card said.
 Adoption of measures will open up competition and promote innovation and efficiency, rather than dictate in detail how the systems will operate. The department declined to adopt suggestions that vendors make expensive alterations to their systems or that fees vendors charges the airlines for booking flights be regulated beyond the current requirement that they not be discriminatory.
 Today's final rule extends CRS regulations through 1997 and strengthens the existing rules which have been in effect since 1984.
 CRSs provide information on airline schedules, fares and seat availability to travel agencies and allow agents to book seats and issue tickets. Because of the systems' efficiency, almost all travel agents use them for these tasks. Because few agencies use more than one system, carriers must participate in each system to assure all agents have access to their flight information. This dependence of both airlines and travel agents on these CRSs raises questions, which the new rules address, about their effect on airline competition.
 A key provision of the new rules will enable travel agents to use equipment and software obtained from suppliers other than a CRS vendor and, if the agency is not using equipment owned by the vendor, to use a single terminal for access to other CRSs and databases. This will enable agents to reshape information from the systems to better serve their customers. Giving agencies access to other databases from one CRS terminal will also create opportunities for new firms to offer travel information.
 There are currently four CRS systems in the United States, all owned by one or more airlines: Sabre, owned by American Airlines' parent company; Apollo, operated by a subsidiary of United Airlines and owned by Covia Partnership, a group composed of United, USAir and several foreign airlines; Worldspan, owned by Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines, Trans World Airlines and a partnership of Asian carriers; and System One, owned by an affiliate of Continental Airlines. Sabre is by far the largest system, while Apollo is second largest.
 Today's final rule readopts the existing requirement that information be organized in an objective and unbiased manner and that participation in a CRS be open to all carriers on a non- discriminatory basis.
 Another provision of the rule will reduce the maximum subscriber contract term from five years to three, though allowing vendors to offer a contract with a term up to five years. It will also prohibit a vendor from requiring its subscribers to make a specified minimum number of bookings on its equipment each month or limiting the number of terminals leased by subscribers from other vendors.
 The revised rule was based on comments received in response to a September 1989 Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and a March 1991 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The department's review of the CRS industry also includes its May 1988 "Study of Airline Computer Reservation Systems" and its February 1990 "Airline Marketing Practices: Travel Agencies Frequent Flyer Programs, and Computer Reservation Systems," one volume of DOT's study of airline competition.
 The revised rule is effective 75 days after its publication in the Federal Register.
 -0- 9/16/92
 /NOTE: For a copy of the 147-page rule, call 202-366-5571/
 /CONTACT: Bill Mosley of the U.S. Department of Transportation, 202-366-5571/ CO: U.S. Department of Transportation ST: District of Columbia IN: CPR AIR SU: EXE


DC -- DC034 -- 0256 09/16/92 15:47 EDT
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Date:Sep 16, 1992
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