Japan Airlines and Travelport Agree to Launch New Joint Venture
Japan Airlines Co., Ltd., (TSE: 9201) (“JAL”) and Travelport Worldwide (NYSE: TVPT) (“Travelport”), a leading travel technology company, today agreed to form a joint venture to take ownership of Travelport Japan K.K. (“Travelport Japan”) and JAL’s 100% owned subsidiary, Axess International Network, Inc. (“Axess”). Under the unified Travelport Axess brand, the joint venture will operate a Global Distribution System (GDS) tailored to the needs of the Japanese travel industry.
The proposed joint venture, which will operate under the brand name Travelport Axess, will combine Axess’ expertise in Japan and Travelport’s global technology leadership. Travelport Axess will continue to offer travel agents services through Axess’ GDS platform, “Axess”, and enable access to Travelport’s GDS platforms, “Apollo” and “Galileo”. The proposed joint venture will provide online, mobile and corporate travel propositions including global booking and expense management tools as well as access to New Distribution Capability (NDC) content, offering Japanese travel agencies and their customers the best of locally developed products with best in class global connectivity and capabilities.
Travelport has worked closely with and provided core systems to Axess under technical collaboration arrangements since 2012 and has established a trusted relationship with JAL. JAL is pleased to partner with Travelport in this joint venture due to Travelport’s focus on meeting the needs of its travel agency customers, demonstrating JAL’s strong commitment to continue to work closely with Japan’s travel agents. For Travelport, this joint venture will strengthen its position in Japan’s growing international travel industry1. Travelport Axess will benefit from a team of Japan-based service agents and product specialists uniquely able to deliver products tailored to customer needs. Through combining the strengths of the two companies, Travelport Axess aims to build a strong position and plans to become the leading GDS provider in Japan.
Yoriyuki Kashiwagi, Japan Airlines` Executive Officer of International Passenger Sales, said, “We believe that the future of travel will be transformed by technological innovation. I am confident that Travelport Axess will be able to help Japanese travel agents to respond to growing global demands by offering services based on state-of-the-art technology.”
Gordon Wilson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Travelport, commented, “This announcement and our ongoing partnership with Japan Airlines is a significant advance in the provision of state-of-the-art technology for the Japanese travel industry. We are very excited about the growth opportunities it presents for our mutual travel agency customers.”
Stephen Shurrock, Travelport’s Chief Commercial Officer added, “Through a forward-thinking combination of Axess’ local expertise and Travelport’s API-based commerce platform technology we’ll bring greater choice and exceptional performance to our Japanese customers and travelers.”
Under the planned agreement, Travelport will hold a majority stake in Travelport Axess, with JAL controlling the remaining stake and playing an active role in the joint venture. Following the signing of a definitive agreement between Travelport and JAL, the new joint venture is expected to be formed on June 1, 2019. Initially, Travelport Japan and Axess will continue to operate independently, with a gradual program of integration to combine the two organizations commencing later this year.
 The number of international travelers to Japan topped the 30-million mark for the first time in 2018, a three-fold increase over the past 5 years, according to the Japan National Tourism Agency (JNTO) while departures by Japanese outbound travelers totaled nearly 19 million in 2018, the fourth year of growth, according to Japan Travel Bureau (JTB).
|Glossary of Terms|
An API, or Application Program Interface, is a set of routines, protocols and tools for building software applications which will specify how software components should interact
A Global Distribution System is designed for travel professionals, including travel agents, online travel agents and corporate travel management companies to shop, book and manage integrated travel itineraries for travelers including airline seats, hotel rooms and rental car reservations where consumers want choice as well as managing travel agency workflow processes and data requirements
New Distribution Capability is the IATA defined API protocol which is being progressively deployed by the industry to enable improvements in how airline offers, content and other products are presented and sold. Travelport was the first GDS company to be level three certified by IATA as an aggregator for the NDC API capability.2
About Japan Airlines
Japan Airlines (JAL) was founded in 1951 and became the first international airline in Japan. A member of the oneworld® alliance, the airline now reaches 349 airports in 52 countries and regions together with its codeshare partners with a modern fleet of more than 230 aircraft. JAL Mileage Bank (JMB), the airline's loyalty program, is one of the largest mileage programs in Asia. Awarded as one of the most punctual major international airlines and a certified 5-Star Airline by Skytrax, JAL is committed to providing customers with the highest levels of flight safety and quality in every aspect of its service and aims to become one of the most preferred airlines in the world.
About Travelport (www.travelport.com)
Travelport (NYSE: TVPT) is the technology company which makes the experience of selling, buying and managing travel continually better. It operates a travel commerce platform providing distribution, technology, payment and other solutions for the global travel and tourism industry. The company facilitates travel commerce by connecting the world’s leading travel providers with online and offline travel buyers in a proprietary business-to-business (B2B) travel marketplace. The company also provides critical IT services to airlines, such as shopping, ticketing, departure control and other solutions. Travelport is headquartered in Langley, UK and is represented in 180 countries and territories.
About Axess (http://www.axess.co.jp/eng/)
Axess is a computer reservations system based in Japan. In 1991 Axess was spun-off from Japan Airlines, and provides travel agencies with booking and ticketing capabilities for a wide range of international airlines. Axess formed an agreement in 2012 with Travelport pursuant to which the Axess system has been hosted through Travelport’s data center in Atlanta, USA.