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The Scoop Archives...No News Here, but if you've been out of the business for a while you can catch up here....

Got some gossip on TPF or TPFers ? Drop us a line...

Not Quite The Latest News... 

Anyone Want To Buy A CRS ? 

Just finished a particularly lucrative contract and not sure what to spend all that money on ?  See yourself as the new entrepreneur that is going to really make e-business payoff ? How about getting together with a few other like-minded TPFers and calling someone over at Galileo ?  It seems they might want to make a deal...This was on the PRNewswire recently:

"ROSEMONT, Ill., Oct. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Galileo International, Inc.,
(NYSE:GLC), announced today that its board of directors has
authorized management to explore strategic alternatives for the company
designed to maximize shareholder value. Such alternatives include, but are not limited to, a leveraged buyout or sale to a strategic buyer. The company said that there is no assurance that any transaction will be completed. The board has begun the search for a financial advisor to explore and evaluate possible alternatives, and anticipates naming one shortly.

"Galileo International has always been focused on enhancing shareholder
value," said James E. Barlett, chairman, president and CEO.
"We do not believe that the public market is appropriately valuing our
consistent financial performance, cash flow generation and excellent
growth prospects. Our board of directors has agreed that it is in the best
interest of shareholders that we evaluate all options in order to deliver
increased shareholder value."

The company does not intend to make any further information available
regarding the progress of this strategic initiative except in accordance
with applicable securities laws." 

Galileo International stock has suffered, along with almost every other 'tech' stock, in the last few financial quarters and is now trading around $19, much nearer its 52-week Low of $13.50 than its high of $33.50. So does this represent an opportunity for investors and shareholders, or a warning that the financial experts in the marketplace have a different view of Galileo's potential than their management ?  Tell us what you think. (26th October 2000)

SABRE To Throw-In The Outsourcing Towel ?

They were once one of the 2000lb Gorillas of the outsourcing business but if a recent article in Travel Distribution Review that is doing the rounds in TPFers e-mail is anything to go by those days are about to end.

Naturally there will be much speculation over the actual contribution that the failure to secure the BA outsourcing deal made to this decision.   Over the years Sabre (now: The Sabre Group) had grown from the highly respected IT department of American Airlines, responsible for the creation of the SABRE CRS, into a multi-faceted IT solutions provider that had led the way that other companies, notably Amadeus, are now following with some success.   Whether this apparent decision to pull back from being an outsourcing giant will allow them to focus on the higher margin Professional Services with more success remains to be seen.   It certainly would eliminate any possibility of them growing by acquisition in the same manner that Amadeus now seem poised to do through deals like that with BA.

Sabrre have made bold decisions in the past and some have come off while others have been less rewarding for them, what do you think will happen this time ?  Why not let us know what you think ?   
(26th October 2000)


TPFers Looking To Forge Union Links

We recently received an e-mail which stated the following:

"Word is out that the TPF and distributed technical employees are banding together with CWA (Communication Workers of America) to form Union. Some former TWA, NW, DL, System One, etc. It's time for benefits, retirement, medical upon retirement, job security, fair pay,...Information site at:

Employees from Delta Technology and Worldspan would like to know if you
support the effort or are interested in participating, meetings start soon, represent yourself.


Thank you."

It has often been felt in the TPF community that Delta operated a fairly strict environment for their staff, perhaps this is a reaction against that situation.  Perhaps the influence of Delta attitudes and procedures has also affected the Worldspan environment.   We don't know, but somebody out there does.  So why not offer your opinion on this development in TPFer - management relations ?  TPFers, even within the IT industry, are a unique resource for employers (which is one of the main reasons most TPF shops would like to move away from requiring 'specialist' skills at all).  Companies rarely appreciate the human resources they rely on so heavily, is this another example of that or are these activists becoming unnecessarily antagonistic ?   Let us know what you think.  Share your opinions with the rest of the TPF community, in the strictest confidence of course, whether you agree with this movement or not.            (30th September 2000)

Read some opinions on a Union for TPFers here

GALILEO Get Personal 

ROSEMONT, Ill., July 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Galileo International, Inc. (NYSE: GLC - news), a global travel distribution services leader, today announced the worldwide launch of ViewTrip(TM) , its newest Internet information service tool for travelers. By using the new ViewTrip site, customers of Galileo® and Apollo® automated travel agencies now can view their itineraries 24 hours a day, seven days a week, over the Internet simply by typing in their last name and a six-digit reservation

ViewTrip allows travelers to view -- in real time -- their air, hotel and car rental reservations booked on the Galileo or Apollo computer reservation system (CRS). ViewTrip
provides dynamic itinerary information, including any updates made to an itinerary by travel agents or travelers. 

With this  a business traveler delayed in Los Angeles can rebook his flight on a wireless device and a family member or business associate can access the change via
the Internet with ViewTrip.

``ViewTrip is another example of how Galileo is opening up its computer reservation systems and putting personalized travel information -- via theBabetta Gray, EVP Subscriber Sales & Service Galileo International Internet -- into the hands of its
travel agencies and their customers,'' said Babetta Gray, executive vice president, Subscriber Sales and Service. ``Along with providing vital, real-time information, ViewTrip
allows agencies to supplement their service offerings by providing their customers with 24-hour, real-time access to their reservations.''

Galileo will continue to add new content and features to ViewTrip, which will include travel data, maps, weather updates and itinerary-specific destination information. ViewTrip, available to all Galileo or Apollo agency travelers, is free of charge.
                                           (28th July 2000)

Other Views On The BA Story

Check out this other news item which you might have missed from ComputerWeekly's site Not sure how much of this report is accurate, and whether Amadeus would like to be known as a Spanish company, but there might be some truth in it.  It does seem that £250m total to develop BABS and RTB over 30 yrs would equate to something of a bargain...but then what do we know ?                               (11/5/2000)

Staff Spirits Dampened By Office Flood

Some British Airways IT staff were given an unpleasant surprise yesterday when part of the ceiling above them collapsed and they were drenched by water from a ruptured pipe.  One observer saw water cascading down onto a PC and the flood has temporarily displaced approximately 6-10 staff as work is carried out to repair the pipe and ruined carpets and equipment.

This accident comes just days after Amadeus representatives had stressed that when they finally take on some of the BA TPF staff they will have offices equipped to a very high standard. I expect at least one or two staff might have remembered those words as they dried themselves yesterday afternoon....

SABRE Fails To Make The Cut With BA

British Airways has chosen to place the future of its TPF Reservations system BABS in the hands of the European consortium AMADEUS rather than The SABRE Group.

This represents a major coup for AMADEUS and a significant setback for SABRE. Many people within the TPF community felt that AMADEUS were not the leading provider of TPF hosting services and for them to have won over a bid from SABRE, until now thought to be pre-eminent in this area, will send shockwaves through the industry.

While AMADEUS’ reputation and status within global IT will be enhanced by this 10 year deal with BA, it can only harm SABRE. Although this is clearly a highly complex and risky undertaking for both BA and their chosen supplier, observers are bound to consider what possible affect some notable past SABRE projects, such as CONFIRM and the SNCF French national railway, might have had on BA senior management.

In many ways the choice of AMADEUS could be seen to reflect BA’s global corporate approach. Unlike SABRE, which is a US company, based in the US and has a ‘US-centric’ reputation, AMADEUS grew from the cooperation of many different nationalities, has key operational divisions headquartered in separate countries and employs a strongly multi-national and multi-cultural workforce.

For a Special Report and Opinions CLICK HERE  

Galileo Financial Report Shows Costs of Swindon Closure

The following excerpt is taken from the recently published Annual Report by Galileo (figures are presumed to be in thousands...)

"The Company recorded special charges of $26,460 ($15,902 after tax) during the year ended December 31, 1998 related to a strategic realignment of the
Company's operations in the United Kingdom and, to a lesser degree, other realignments within the Company. These special charges were comprised
primarily of $15,025 in severance costs related to termination of 399 employees, primarily in the development and marketing groups, and $11,435 of
other costs, principally related to the closing of the remaining Swindon, U.K. facilities. As of December 31, 1999, $15,082 of severance costs have been
paid and charged against the liability and 345 employees have been terminated. The Company expects the realignment activities to be substantially
complete in early 2000. Also related to the closing of Swindon, U.K. facilities, in 1993 the Company, formerly Covia Partnership, combined with The
Galileo Company Ltd. and consolidated its two data center facilities resulting in the closing of the Swindon, U.K. data center. In connection therewith,
the estimated cost of the consolidation was charged to expense. During 1999, the Company was successful in assigning a Swindon, U.K. facility lease at market rates, resulting in recognition of an $11,359 one-time recovery of previously reserved facilities expenses. At December 31, 1999 and 1998, the estimated remaining liabilities for all of the above mentioned restructuring activities, principally related to Swindon, U.K. severance costs and facility closure costs, were $10,220 and $44,115, respectively,  and are included in the accompanying consolidated balance sheets.                             (12th April 2000)

BA Close To Choosing Outsourcing Supplier 

British Airways are close to making a choice between SABRE and AMADEUS for who will assume control of their TPF systems in oneof the largest and most complex outsourcing/multihosting deals yet in the industry.

Both bidders have completed lengthy discussions with both BA and Qantas and last week BA and met in Singapore to compare notes on the rival bids.  Word is that there was broad agreement on the suitability of each bid.  A decision was planned for end of March early April but with such a complex decision BA cannot afford to be hasty.  The contract is believed to be for an initial period of 10 years and further rumours are that other airlines (EI and CX) might be considering a similar arrangement.

Draft 'Heads of Terms' have been sent to both bidders but we are told that some issues are still in the negotiation stage, chiefly issues of liability in the event of operational failures etc.

The major Unions involved (GMB and MSF) are also meeting representatives from both bidders and have numerous questions for the rival delegations.  Not least is some assurance that the winning bidder will even recognise the unions, let alone collaborate and deliver an acceptable staffing contract to their current membership.  It is believed that Amadeus would be willing to recognise and work with the unions but we have no information on Sabre's stance on this.
We'd be interested to hear from anyone involved in this situation and can assure discretion. If you have any information or opinions on the fight to control BA's TPF systems let us know.  (7th April 2000)


IR35 Set To Have Major Impact At BA

Changes to the UK income tax law, known as IR35, come in to force after April 6th 2000. They make it almost impossible for independent contractors to operate through their own corporation when working on a TPF contract.   BA have also reduced the number of 'approved' contract vendors to 2 (!) Computer People and  Early indications are that neither company will risk the wrath of the Inland Revenue and attempt to structure working arrangements with TPF contractors so that they will have a chance of resisting the changes to the tax code.   This will make contracting at BA (or indeed in the UK) far less attractive.  One US contractor at BA has estimated that it will impact his income by 30% when all aspects are considered.   Do you have an opinion about IR35 ?  If so tell us.  

Old Galileo Data Centre Set To Be Largest Web-Farm In Europe...

News has reached us that Cable & Wireless have got hold of the old Galileo data centre in Swindon and plan to turn it into the largest web-hosting installation in Europe.

It seems a sensible use for the site and appears to quell rumours that SABRE might have been keen to turn it into their European base.  You can read C&W's own description of what they plan for the site here.                              (14th March 2000)



The world's largest airline reservation system, went off-line 22/2/2000, leaving airlines including US Airways Group Inc. and American Airlines, travel agencies and consumers unable to access its reservation systems for two hours.
In a statement posted on its web site, Sabre said at 9 a.m. CST, the system began experiencing problems with two network backbone routers that manage data running through its Internet system to its Tulsa, Okla., data center.

The company said the system was up and running at 11 a.m. CST, when Sabre began restoring service to its customers.Sabre spokeswoman Theda Page Whitehead said today that the cause of the crash is still being investigated. 
"As of last night, we were doing diagnostic testing with our equipment vendor," she said, declining to name the vendor

The Sabre computer reservations system handles approximately 40% - or 400 million bookings annually - of all reservations made around the world, the company said.      (23rd Feb 2000) 

  Worldspan News

Under a multi-year agreement, WORLDSPAN will provide automation and
computer reservation system (CRS) services to Navigant International, Inc., one of the nation's largest suppliers of corporate travel management services. The agreement follows two years of rapid growth by Navigant, during which the company has acquired a number of regional travel firms, including several WORLDSPAN subscriber agencies.     (16th Feb 2000)

BA: BABS Outsourcing

Not too much new to report on the possible 'outsourcing' of British Airways' TPF systems.  The two competing companies, AMADEUS and SABRE have both visited BA's London Headquarters for lengthy technical discussions but no decision is expected before March.   Unconfirmed rumours suggest that while AMADEUS favour migrating the BA system to their Erding Data Centre if victorious, SABRE might like to establish a new Data Centre just outside London to house the BA system if they are chosen.

Either way staff are still facing some tough choices.  Some TPF trainees that had only just arrived at their groups after their initial courses, have been offered the opportunity to transfer internally to other areas.  It seems that many will take this option.  What will happen to the contractors and other permanent staff in the affected areas is still unclear.  (16th Feb 2000)

New Shake-Up At Holiday Inn

Paul Halstead, SVP has resigned to accept a senior IT leadership job at in Hawaii and Suzie Carr has been appointed SVP of Ops and Development. Suzie came to Holiday several years ago as a long distance sales person. Following the failed Galaxy project and the final decision to scrap the project and cut the losses, a new project called Symphony has emerged. This appears to be a Holidex re-write and includes the aging Yield management system HIRO and a PMS component. 

Significantly the senior management team is without a TPF'er. Technical staff at Holiday Inn are nervous as a rumor that BASS, the owner of the Holiday name, will be moving all development and operations to England. The chairman of Holiday Inn has already re-located.      (10th January 2000)

BA Getting Out Of The TPF Business ? 

The latest on the BA situation is from the Daily Express (2/12/99)

The following is from the Electronic Telegraph:

"BRITISH Airways is considering selling or spinning off its BABS
computerised reservations system as part of a drive to cut £225m costs this
financial year.

BABS - the British Airways Booking System - forms part of its Information
Management wing, which directly employs about 2,200 people. About 200
staff work on the BABS system. It is a pure reservation system, showing
which seats are empty on flights, but is not used to determine the price at
which those seats are sold.

In briefings to staff last week, BA explained that it could put BABS out to
tender. A BA spokesman said: "We are looking to see where we can take
costs out of the airline and improve efficiencies. As part of that process, we
have been talking to the Information Management staff and discussing what
options we have."

"One of the proposals is that BABS, whose technology needs updating,
could be operated by an external partner. We could put it out to tender."
She stressed that it was "only a proposal at this stage" and that it was "much
too early" to discuss the implications for jobs."

As far as anyone knows the two potential suitors are AMADEUS and SABRE.  Indications are that BA plans to do all it can to ensure continuity of employment for all TPF-related staff affected by this move.

It is known that BA wish to leverage their DCS product, which is highly regarded within the industry, since AMADEUS do not have a DCS product of their own, so would be interested in acquiring one, and SABRE would be interested in obtaining a superior product themselves.

With BA currently operating on the latest release of TPF and being almost current on PUTs, one can only speculate on what the spokesperson for BA meant by "updating" the BABS technology.  Presumably this is a reference to the adoption of Unix, or Open (multi-vendor) Systems by some other small TPF users.

If anyone has views on this topic or can offer any more insight or information then please contact us                                                                   (23rd November 1999)

United Set For Move To Worldspan

United Airlines seem set to move their system away from Galileo to Worldspan.  Recruiters are busily scouring the globe for 50+ TPF staff for Kansas City.

This would be a major blow to Galileo, for whom the Apollo system was a flagship.  Does anyone know more details on this story ?  If so please let us know...                                                        (12th October 1999)

EDS Sign Continental for $1.5 Billion

Tuesday September 28, 9:01 am Eastern Time 
Company Press Release
SOURCE: Electronic Data Systems 
EDS Signs $1.5 Billion Services Extension With Continental Airlines; Technology Support, Including E-Commerce, Enhances Airline's Capability To Meet Industry Drive Toward Global Airline Alliances PLANO, Texas, Sept. 28 announced the signing of a global service agreement valued at $1.5 billion over eight years to enable the airline to take advantage of the rapidly changing marketplace. The industry is moving
quickly toward global airline alliances to meet travelers' needs in an increasingly smaller and more connected world through the speed of transportation and technology. The contract calls for EDS to provide a myriad of existing and expanded services, such as inter-airline electronic ticketing and check-in.

Continental has a comprehensive alliance network including relationships with carriers in North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia. A key goal of the alliance strategy is to offer the traveler a seamless itinerary, which often requires Continental to achieve a high degree of systems compatibility with the partner airline. Previously EDS has worked with Continental on technology projects supporting alliances with Northwest
Airlines, America West Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Alitalia, Air France, Copa
Airlines and many others.

``As a global leader in the IT industry, EDS has been integral to our success since the relationship was established in 1991. IT is the underpinning that will ensure the success of global airline alliances,'' said Continental Sr.V.P. and CIO Janet Wejman. ``International travelers will benefit from improved shared customer services and information, smoother international connections, and other advantages, such as global
shared frequent flyer programs.'' Continental Airlines and EDS support success has been demonstrated as the airline has been awarded first or second place in the Frequent Flyer magazine and J.D. Power and Associates Airline Customer Satisfaction Study for the past four years.  ``The leadership of Dick Brown, EDS CEO, was instrumental in EDS packaging its services in a way that delivered the most value to Continental,'' said Gordon Bethune, Continental Chairman and CEO. 
EDS secured the expanded agreement with Continental over an elite group of
competitors. The company will manage compute environments, reservation
systems, legacy application development and maintenance, field services, and
network and voice systems. New services to be provided in the expanded
agreement include single-point-of-contact help desk and complete desktop

``The extension of our relationship with Continental, the 5th largest
airline in the U.S. and a leader in the development of international airline
alliances, firmly positions EDS as a major player in providing services to
the global airline industry. The engagement also signifies EDS as an enabler
of the industry's innovations and latest business trends,'' said Bobby
Grisham, President of the EDS Travel and Transportation Group. EDS serves
more than 20 international airline customers.

Continental Airlines is the fifth largest airline in the U.S., offering more than 2,200 departures daily to 130 domestic and 85 international destinations. Operating major hubs in Newark, Houston and Cleveland, Continental  has extensive service throughout the Americas, and to Europe and Asia. Continental recently initiated a strategic global alliance with Northwest Airlines. Continental is in the top half of FORTUNE magazine's ``100 Best Companies to Work for in America,'' and has won first or second place Frequent Flyer Magazine and J.D. Power awards for four consecutive years. Continental has received numerous awards for its BusinessFirst premium cabin
(Conde Nast Traveler, OAG Official Airline Guides, Entrepreneur and Smart Money magazines), OnePass frequent flyer program (InsideFlyer's Freddie Awards) and overall operations and management (Air Transport World's 1997 Airline of the Year).  EDS, a leader in the global information technology services industry for more than 35 years, delivers management consulting, electronic business solutions, and systems and technology expertise to improve the performance of more than 9,000 business and government clients in about 50 countries. EDS reported revenues of $16.9 billion in 1998. The company's stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange. Visit EDS via the Internet at 

Galileo Contractors : Update

"Galileo has processed 16 out of 27 contractors for 'early termination of contract' effective 7/31/99. The 11 who are remaining are assigned to specific projects for which they still have a need of contract assistance. However, the transition from Swindon has been completed 'ahead of schedule' and 'more employees than expected elected
to come to Denver, after all.". This is apparently the message from Galileo Human Resources.... (26th July 1999)

Pressure Of Internet Activity Stresses SABRE System

SABRE's Passenger Services System (PSS) is already running on 8 CPCs (with a further FPC (Fares) complex of 8 CPCs) but is reported to be creaking under the strain of recent workload increases. Unconfirmed reports place the source of this increased workload as the activity from the successful Travelocity website. The situation is nothing particularly new for the crew in Tulsa who have been fighting a virtually constant battle against resources and performance since the startling business success of the SABRE system in the 70s and 80s. I'm sure they had hoped to have put the need for enforced innovation behind them following their massive conversion project from their largely unique version of ACP8 to a less customised TPF3.1 in 1990. It seems they are now to fall victim to their faster, and more successful adoption of e-commerce and the web. We're sure the hardware salesmen have their Rolodex's open at the SABRE contact pages even as you read this. (26th July 1999)

SABRE Also Releasing Contractors

SABRE are set to release all contractors and halt work on some projects. Staff have been reassured that permanent employees engaged in terminated projects

would be redeployed throughout SABRE. The stated objective is rumoured to be to reduce staff and expenses without layoffs of permanent employees. (25th July 1999)

United Set To Leave Galileo

In the same week or so that British Airways has sold it's shares in Galileo we have now been reliably informed that there is very little likelihood of United Airlines remaining part of the Galileo fold (indeed they have scheduled a visit to review the SABRE facilities for the very near future...). Regarding Continental, the other major airline soon to be needing a new home for it's reservations system, we're betting on Worldspan as the likely favourites to supply the computing resources. (24th July 1999).

Galileo Let Contractors Go....

We have been told that Galileo have released all their contractors working in Denver. We are trying to clarify the situation and hope to bring you more details very shortly. (20th July 1999)

Continental Almost Certain To Leave EDS

Continental Airlines is nearing a decision for its hosting contract, with its EDS pact set to expire. Sources say Worldspan is the forerunner. They also say where Continental goes, America West may follow     (1st July 1999)

Sabre poised to host Air Canada and perhaps others in Star Alliance

Air Canada signed an agreement with Sabre for assessment services for a prospective long-term technology relationship - possibly signaling the vendor of choice for the coveted United Airlines hosting contract, which is meant to include members of the Star Alliance. Terms of the Air Canada-Sabre pact cover critical applications and systems, including "all computer systems in all branches and systems governing the operational requirements for running the airline."

"The assessment agreement will enable us to evaluate in greater detail the information technology products and services available from Sabre," said Lise Fournel, senior vice president commercial for Air Canada. "We are interested in what Sabre can offer Air Canada in line with our profitability and cost-reduction initiatives in the information technology area," Fournel said.

Sabre, meanwhile, sees this agreement as "further evidence that major independent carriers are seriously interested in Sabre as a way of meeting their in-creasingly complex information technology requirements, said Eric Speck, ex-ecutive vice president sales and marketing. With Sabre lined up to serve Air Canada, other Star Alliance carriers may not be far behind. The United hosting contract specifies that the winner will get the business of United, Ansett Australia, Air New Zealand and Air Canada, which has appar-ently now cast its vote with Sabre. While those close to the bidding process continue to place their bets on Sabre to win United's business, the Chicago-based airline isn t commenting and Sabre has said no deal has been signed.

(July 1st 1999)

Autumn TPFUG To Be In Cancun

It is confirmed that the relocated Autumn TPFUG meeting will be held in Cancun. Time to dust off that list of reasons why it is ESSENTIAL that you attend the next conference ..... (22nd May 1999)

SABRE or British Airways to take over Galileo site in Swindon ?

It is believed that both SABRE and BA have been walked through the site in Swindon used by Galileo as prospective new occupants. SABRE are known to be opening a facility in the Swindon area, possibly complimented by a suite of management offices around Newbury. Whether these will be separate from or partially replace the presence in Hounslow is unclear. The purpose of the SABRE site in Swindon is thought to be development. SABRE spoke at the recent TPFUG in Chicago about their ideas for the future of TPF technology. Some months ago SABRE had been quietly talking to selected individuals in the UK about the possibility of joining them when they established a larger presence. At that time they were interested in collecting a portfolio of people that could go in to new accounts to prepare for outsourcing or the take-over of general data processing operations.

It has been previously reported here that SABRE were recently rumoured to have tried to take over the computer operations for British Airways and/or acquire BA's Speedwing consulting operation. Whether this might be involved with SABRE's interest in the Swindon site is not known. If you know anything about this do let us know, in absolute confidence of course.. (7th May 1999)

Venue Change For Autumn TPFUG Due To Terrorist Bomb Blast

The Autumn 1999 TPF Users Group Conference scheduled in Athens will be moved to another location.. A terrorist bomb exploded at the Intercontinental Hotel (the hotel to be used for the conference) last week. Extensive damage resulted and one death. In view of this the TPFUG Board of Directors voted to scratch Athens from the list, and is considering a new venue. (Newspaper report) (3rd May 1999)

Contractors Let Go Early From FOS Project

About 8-10 contractors have been told that their last day is to be Friday Apr.23.1999 after they were asked to convert, despite their contract terms still having time to run. Unofficially we have heard that this may be due to a desire to reduce contractor numbers initiated by SABRE management. Some seasoned contractors are now concerned after the recent decision by Galileo to release contractors early and now Sabre letting some go, despite having numerous projects in progress. If you know any more about the situation at either Galileo or Sabre let us know.

Sabre Said To Be Bidding For 3 Airlines' Business

By Dan Reed - Fort Worth Star-Telegram - 3/23/99

FORT WORTH -- The Sabre Group is preparing bids to run data processing and information technology for three of the world's largest airlines -- United, Continental and British Airways -- according to industry sources and a leading trade journal.

Sabre, an affiliate of American Airlines and parent AMR Corp., faces potential obstacles in landing those contracts. Rivalries among the airlines are intense, regulators could object to Sabre's buildup of market share, and Sabre's abilities could be spread too thin, analysts said.

But a deal with any of the three carriers would have a major effect on Sabre, the industry's top provider of information technology outsourcing services to airlines. Besides American, Sabre's clients include US Airways, Canadian Airlines, Aerolineas Argentinas and Cathay Pacific Airways. United, Continental and British Airways are all larger than US Airways, whose 1997 deal to buy Sabre's information technology services was worth $4.3 billion over 25 years.

Last week, ¡Travel Distribution Report' suggested that other members of the Star Alliance, which is anchored by United and Lufthansa German Airlines, will likely choose the same information technology service as United.

Industry sources said representatives of the Fort Worth- based Sabre, which was partially spun off from AMR Corp. in 1996, have pitched their services to senior United executives. United is considering ending its long relationship with Galileo, the world's second-largest computer reservations and airline information technology company.

Industry sources also said that Sabre President Michael Durham is expected to meet in Houston this week with Continental executives, who are looking to replace EDS as Continental's information technology service. Sabre executives are also considering buying Speedwing, British Airways' information technology unit, according to ¡Travel Distribution Report,' a trade journal.

Sabre, a publicly traded company that is 84 percent owned by AMR, is working closely with Speedwing on several projects related to the American-British Airways alliance and the larger, multi-carrier OneWorld airline alliance anchored by American and British Air.

A Sabre bid for more airline business would not be surprising. The airline information technology business is the fastest-growing and most profitable for Sabre, which reported $2.3 billion in revenue last year. The company has said it is seeking major outsourcing contracts.

"With the trend toward global airline alliances, we feel we bring a lot to the table in providing technology for those types of alliances," Sabre spokeswoman Jennifer Hudson said. The company is not discussing specific companies it is pursuing.

Sabre officials said yesterday the company will repurchase up to 1 million shares of its stock, worth about $40 million based on yesterday's stock closing price of $40.0625 a share, to cover current obligations under its employee stock plans.

Sabre Group also said that it will report a one-time $35 million gain, or $22 million after taxes, in the first quarter from the sale of stock in a telecommunications network company. Sabre is best known to the public for its Sabre computer reservations system, used at 35,000 travel agency locations to sell about a third of the world's airline tickets. But the company also provides a wide array of information technology services, primarily to airlines and other travel-related companies. Those services include designing and maintaining company operating and scheduling systems, maintaining customer data bases and providing a full range of data processing services including financial planning and revenue accounting.

It is not clear whether Sabre's bids for the United, Continental and British Air business will include all of the carriers' computer reservations and information technology functions, or just portions. United and British Airways declined to comment yesterday, and a Continental spokesman did not return telephone calls. British Air officials have quietly been shopping Speedwing for several years. Because of the close relationship between American and British Air, a Sabre-Speedwing deal would make sense, industry sources said. But the question for Sabre is whether it would be best to invest capital to acquire and control Speedwing, or simply to continue cooperating closely with it, the sources said.

Sabre might be fighting an uphill battle in its pursuit of United and Continental, said Tom Woodall, publisher of ¡Travel Distribution Report..'

Both have intense rivalries with American and are involved in global alliances that compete against OneWorld. Woodall pointed out that Northwest recently acquired part of Continental. Worldspan, the fourth-largest airline information technology service provider, is owned by a partnership that includes Northwest, Delta and Trans World Airlines.

"I'm sure [Northwest] is urging Continental to sign up with Worldspan," Woodall said. United also has lengthy ties to Galileo and founded its predecessor, Woodall added. United "may be trying to scout around to find out if there's something better than Galileo out there that it might go with," Woodall said. "Or it might just be trying to get Galileo's attention by talking to its competitors."

WORLDSPAN Announces Resignation of Mike Buckman

ATLANTA, March 15, 1999 --WORLDSPAN today announced that Mike

Buckman, chief executive officer, will be leaving the Company at the end of

March to take a position with a leading Internet-based real estate services

firm. Since his appointment as CEO in May 1995, Buckman has lead the

Company through a period of unprecedented growth, profitability, and


SNCF Data Centre On The Move...

The SNCF (french railroad company) intends to move the TPF developpement

from Paris to Nantes (West of France). This move, decided for political reasons, seems also to be considered by management as an opportunity to slowly abandon the TPF-based reservation system, RESARAIL.

Strongly criticized because of the astounding cost of it, and also because of the numerous problems encountered at the beginning of the project, RESARAIL's future, and the future of the 300 people working on this project, is unclear...

Only about a third of the SNCF staff intends to follow the move to Nantes, a medium-sized town, somewhat off the beaten track. Does this mean the future of TPF programming at SNCF will either be an outsourcing (with Sabre ?), or a slow death of a project that is just coming to maturity ? If you have any further information on the SNCF situation please let us know. (31/1/99)

GALILEO To Close Swindon Operation : 250 Jobs To Go

Staff in Swindon found out recently that Galileo plan to close the operation within the next few months with the loss of 250 jobs. Despite announcing a sound financial report almost simultaneously Galileo have decided to centralise their TPF development and communications support in Denver and place their other marketing and support services at other locations within the UK. A copy of the press release and the internal memo to staff are available here.

Activity at Amtrak

As of Jan 31, 1999 Arrow is certified Y2K compliant. GDS distribution systems are either ongoing or scheduled to conduct Y2K testing against ARROW. Arrow will have seat assignment for High Speed Rail and Passenger Name Association in the PNR sched to go on production this year. Arrow will also have a Windows (MFC plus our own homegrown set of Arrow API classes for TPF connectivity) GUI set to roll out this year.

You can also make reservations and buy your Amtrak ticket via Amtrak's internet website. ( (3/2/99)

SouthWest Airlines in Year 2000 Crisis

Southwest Airlines are believed to be in some trouble following attempts to migrate their Reservation system to a Unix platform. There are persistent rumours that the proposed system (possibly based around HP-Unix, with Hewlett-Packard as prime contractors, and using COBOL (!?)) was not going to be able to handle the message rates expected and so Southwest are believed to be returning to a TPF/ALCS solution. The problem is that they were using a TPF 1 system, the so-called "Cowboy" system, operated by SABRE, which is not Y2K compliant. There is now little time left to perform the TPF1 - TPF4.1 upgrade that would be necessary. Anyone out there with TPF1 to TPF4.1 migration experience ??? Do you know any more details about this situation ? If you do let us know.


Holiday Inn - HOLIDEX re-write status update : 8th October 1998

News has been received, directly from Moira Thornett, Vice President with responsibility for the Holidex re-write project.  In an e-mail to us she said:


"We're currently in the requirements gathering phase, so we don't yet have the full answer on what the new system will look like. We do know that It will replace the current Holidex system, and it will be TPF-based. Holidex is our #1 mission-critical system, and we need the stability and robustness that TPF provides. I fully expect the entire project to last 3+ years, with incremental deliverables as soon as six months."

Moira has graciously offered to provide periodic progress reports on this important project and we will make those updates available here just as soon as we get them.

Walgreens Almost Off TPF

Despite their long and arduous struggle (reported here first) to migrate their pharmacy support systems away from TPF to a so-called Open platform, Walgreens have remained focused on the task and are almost there.  This is a project that has caused much internal tension in Walgreens and a public failure for Andersen Consulting, who were the initial contractor, but were unable to tune the system they developed to be usable in production. Subsequently fresh Unix 'Gurus' were brought in to squeeze extra performance from the mixed hardware and software environment.  This appears to have been successful although no information is available about whether service to the Walgreens pharmacies has actually improved, stayed the same or worsened since introduction of the new client/server architecture.  It was always the case that the largest improvement from a business efficiency perspective was to be gained from process reengineering at the pharmacy level.   This was never made clear in the information releases, which might not have been a good move since the system side of the project faltered so badly under Andersen Consulting.

Things are reportedly much better now however. Walgreens have reduced TPF Systems, Communications, Applications and Coverage technical staff to one contractor (Who is this masked man ? And where can you hire him ?).  However they still rely on TPF for credit card processing for their entire pharmacy network and the speed and volume of transactions for this portion is still causing concern to the  specialists (Tandem in this case) charged with replacing it.

Galileo Contractor Clarification...

Of the 18 contractors that were let go, only 13 were TPF. 3 or 4 managed to
get contracts on other projects ("Skyteller"..??) still at Galileo, 3 are now at UA, a couple went to Sabre at RSI, 1 went to DFW, 1 went off on his own on some indepedent TPF project....                                                                (14/9/98)

'Holiday Inn' Set To Try Again

Bass Hotels and Resorts (BHR), formerly known as Holiday Hospitality, formerly
and more commonly referred to as Holiday Inn, has made yet another new decision to create a new reservation system. The new system will not be replacing the current TPF system, HOLIDEX, but It will provide a different rates and inventory structure for the companies more upscale properties, Crowne Plaza and recently purchased Intercontinental hotels. The current HOLIDEX reservation system will remain in use according to management at BHR. Management also assures our source that the new reservation system will be mainframe based. This project is currently in the early design process, so more to come at a later date. If anyone has more information they would like to share on this please let us know                                     (13/8/98)

Galileo Lets Contractors Go

News from Denver is that Galileo have recently let several contractors go (estimates range from 18 to 40 !?).  RSI were known to have recruited some. Galileo are moving
their Subscriber programming from Denver to Swindon, and the 3 manager groups in Denver that made up Subscriber are being reassigned to Ticketing and Fares. . There is apparently still a lot of work on the books so some insiders are saying that Galileo may be trying to hire contractors again within 2 months... If anyone can shed more light on this piece of news let us know                                               (31/7/98)

Pakistan Airways Joining SABRE Fold...

It appears that Pakistand Airways, currently running a version of the KLM reservation application under ALCS, is probably moving to SABRE.   This is as yet unconfirmed but seems about 90% likely.  It is also rumoured that Aer Lingus, which runs ALCS, may join the SABRE fold too.                                                           (28/5/98)

SABRE Continuing Aggressive Expansion

Sabre has opened a remote programming shop in Denver. They have "coaxed" away about 50 TPF programmers and 7 PC programmers/engineers from Galileo and United. The shop is located about 3 miles from the UAL Data Center. The site is actually being run by RSI Contracting. Most of the TPF'ers are now RSI contractors, with the option to convert to permanent Sabre employees. Sabre eventually plans on growing the shop to about 70 programmers, and has the contractual option of assuming control of the shop (including the lease and all programmers). All hardware and software are provided by Sabre, and LAN services and support are provided by onsite Sabre employees.    (28/5/98)


Holiday Inn Reconsidering Their Position...

Recently we saw a copy of an internal memorandum, received anonymously at the Alternative TPF Homepage which was apparently sent out by Doug Lewis, CIO of Holiday Hospitality Corp regarding the Galaxy Project. The Galaxy Project was first announced February, 1995, as a TPF replacement which would reach production in no more than 18 months. It has now reportedly turned into a $17M airline/internet interface.  One is tempted to wonder what sort of developments could have been made to TPF with the $17M 'invested' in Galaxy....

"I have decided to change the scope and schedule for major aspects of the Galaxy project.

This change was made to accommodate the urgent need to deliver functionality directly supporting hotels and guests. Quality systems, guest information, PeopleSoft, and flexible rates and inventory are the critical areas to which we are diverting resources. These immediate needs outweighed the needs that the Galaxy work was intended to satisfy. Cindi Cunningham, VP Reservations, and Paul are in total agreement that this decision was in the best interest of the business. We are contractually committed to deliver the THISCO interface so that Galaxy work will be continued.

All of the people working on non-THISCO Galaxy elements will be reassigned. No one will be laid off. In fact, the principle reason behind this decision was that we have a shortage of people and I have to make trade-offs as to where we focus their skills.

I know that people working on the Galaxy project have invested much of themselves in this effort and are disappointed in my decision. I would have liked to have been able to do both the Galaxy project and the other projects, but that was not possible.

We still need the functionality that Galaxy was to provide in interfacing Holidex and other systems to the outside world. I fully expect to restart the Galaxy work next year and view this decision as a pause in which we turn to higher priority work. "

TPF For The TUBE ?

SABRE are apparently planning to introduce the London Underground to TPF.  They plan to use the system developed for SNCF (French Railroad) to operate a Staff Scheduling, Train Scheduling and Timeyables system.  Does anyone have any further information on this by any chance ?  If so you know what to do....

Southwest migrating to Unix (?)

This from one of our readers:

Southwest Airlines is developing their own reservations system. It is rumored to be a UNIX system using COBOL!!! They are currently using the old Braniff TPF1 system (COWBOY) that the SABRE Group is operating for them. They hope to begin the migration in September 1997.

Sad News From Tulsa

"On Tuesday, 1JUL97, John Peterson, recently retired, Systems TPF Programmer from American Airlines died at the young age of 63. He wrote his place in TPF history designing and writing the weather system many years ago at AA. John's list of projects and accomplishment goes on and on during his 20+ years contribution to the TPF world.

He was a great man, great programmer and great friend. I welcome any responses, thoughts, or memories you might have, of John Peterson to pass on to his wife and children. I would love for them to realize how John was liked and admired by the TPF world.

Send your response to"

Amtrak Going Off The Rails ?

Recently we received this from a reader:

"Meanwhile, down on the farm, Amtrak is investigating the possibility of replacing the current TPF based reservation application, named ARROW, with an unspecified application running on an unspecified platform. The running joke is "They want something like the airlines use.". (That apparently is a direct quote.)"

So yet another TPF system is under 'threat'. We will watch this one with interest and see if there is any attempt to learn from Holiday Inn or Walgreens.

More on Holiday Inn

We recently came across this little tidbit which is quoted here (unattributably of course):

"Holiday Inn announced that TPF is anticipated to be around 3-5 years. Galaxy will continue to go forward with the intent to interface with the internet and Holiday Inn central reservation offices. Holiday Inn also has a non-financial, reorganizational hiring freeze at this time."

It seems that another attempt to supplant TPF is encountering difficulties. One might be tempted to say 'When will they learn', but if any current users of TPF are candidates to be migrated to another platform then Holiday Inn must be amongst them. Their system is probably in the 200-300 msgs/sec range at peak. If Unix or any other alternate system is unable to replace TPF in this business environment then it is hardly ready for the more demanding applications.

With the apparent determination being applied to migrating away from TPF it is most likely that before long one of the smaller TPF brethren will succumb. It will not be cheap, and it will most certainly not be painless. In fact, as TPF tries to become POSIX compliant and a true object-capable open system, it may even prove to be pointless.

A Simple Web Server on TPF (!?)

At the recent TPFUG in San Francisco IBM (in the shape of Stu Waldron) demonstrated a simple web server working on a VPARS test system in Poughkeepsie. Stu had copied some pages from another IBM website and was able to display them for the curious on your favourite Netscape client.

To enable this Stu needed to develop a miniature version of the unix file system and a way to load the page data (including gif images). He does admit to borrowing a fair bit of the server code from the ALCS version mentioned below and the demonstration included the ability to submit Z-msgs via a CGI-style Form !

A Production Web Server on ALCS (TPF/MVS)

Thanks to Pete King at Galileo for pointing out that Turkish Airlines is currently running a webserver on their TPF/MVS system. He tells us that it is being used for Schedules and I think that means that the URL is:

It does seem a little slower than their home page server but it's interesting nonetheless that we have a working HTTP server in a TPF-like environment. Don't forget that IBM will probably be making some sort of statement about similar support in TPF at the upcoming TUG in San Francisco. The first HTTP Server for straight TPF will probably be a very simple program, performing very basic server functions, while work continues on the unix file system which will allow the porting of a variety of 'state-of-the-art' web servers to TPF (!).

Pete goes on to say:

"The development team at IBM Bedfont .... released "Hierarchical File System" for ALCS. You don't need to worry about ISO-C, HFS is written in Assembler and is only about 5 ECB controlled segments. You can upload directly from your PC toALCS using the DOS send command. Those other fun DOS commands you love also work on ALCS, things like DIR, CD, MD, RD, RENAME.

Other features of ALCS include ASCII file support and TCP/IP. Put them altogether and you have a web server that plugs right into your reservation system. This Web Server support comes as PTFs to the base product, and so is supplied at no extra cost and installation is a breeze.

There is a production ALCS web server running - Turkish Airlines use it for Schedules."

Anyone have any info on this ?

Have you heard anything about an IBM-sponsored project writing a TPF reservation system in Washington, DC? We have had a couple of e-mails from people that have heard of something going on but no details so far... This is supposed to be a 9 month contract, writing the system in DC. Amtrak ?

A (Further) Update on Holiday Inn

This from our correspondent at Holiday Inn:

2 people went to Marriott and one to Worldspan. A couple of the others took Client Server jobs within Holiday Inn, two are still unemployeed. It is still mostly a contract TPF shop, with about 20% as employees.

Qantas Plan Contractor Cull

It is rumoured that up to 70 TPF contractors could be made surplus to requirements now that the installation of the BABS system has completed at Qantas. There are no confirmed reports on expected numbers of lay-offs but decisions are expected soon.

The installation of the BA BABS system may not be enough to quieten some users who are still bemoaning the passing of a Unisys reservations system used by Australian Airlines before Qantas took them over. It was apparently more feature-rich than either the recently replaced Qantas system or the version of BABS that replaced it.

An Update on Walgreens

Well it appears that the proverbial cat is out of the bag regarding the problems at Walgreens (first reported here some months ago). Computerworld (January 27th, pp63-64) carries the story of the halted roll-out of the new Intercom Plus system. The report says that Walgreens has cutover "800 of its 2,238 pharmacies to Intercom Plus since its rollout began in late 1995".

The report also states that Walgreen President L. Daniel Jorndt spoke about the delay to shareholders at the annual meeting earlier this month.

An Update on Holiday Inn

This from a visitor to the Alternative TPF Homepage (received 1/24/97):

Holiday Inn, last Tuesday, laid off approximately 14 Oracle/SQL programmers from it's 'Galaxy' system. (Their new client server res system to replace TPF). The good news is... TPF contractors kept their jobs. in other words, it's safer to be a TPF contractor, than an Oracle Programmer employee! The bad news is... that all of the laid off programmers were old TPFers who were attempting to make a transistion to different technologies.

No Holiday in Atlanta

Apparently, Holiday Inn, which uses TPF for its Reservations system, has run into problems with a project to move off TPF. Their latest forecast is to have a small trial Unix based Client/Server system ready by the year 2000 (originally intended to be fully up and running in 1995). In the meantime, their TPF4 system is giving very high availability with the periods between unplanned outages being counted in months

Is the 'best' solution the wrong choice ?

For a few years now the choice of DASD, particularly for the higher traffic TPF sites, has been a virtual 'no-brainer'. EMC has pretty much made the TPF-user's marketplace its own. At the recent TUG in Dallas, their newest competitor, Encore Computer Corporation, were strongly in evidence.

Encore, a Florida-based company that was aligned with IBM until recently, has a technically more advanced product than EMC. It offers true intelligence in the DASD subsystem, courtesy of a fully functioning Unix system, which allows Encore to store the information within its subsystem in a format of it's own choice, while appearing to hold the data in whatever format the accessing application expects.

While Encore was being backed and helped in its marketing by IBM, they posed a very serious threat to EMC's dominance in the market. However IBM has since pulled back, due to commitments with other vendors and Encore is now a little isolated in its attempts to break the EMC stranglehold.

For companies looking to really leverage their large TPF databases (and mainframe databases generally) the Encore subsystem looks a very exciting alternative to data conversion software running in a host environment (which is all EMC can currently offer). The problem is an old one. Do you 'bet the farm' on new and untried technology that is not backed by a company like IBM, not used by other TPF shops (yet ?) and marking a radical change in technology ?

The cautious amongst us would say "stick with EMC'...but that might just prove to be a short-sighted choice...hopefully someone will appreciate the innovation of the Encore technology and use it to make their TPF systems even more valuable within their corporate environment.

Can you imagine doing a 'cd' (change directory) command on TPF ?

Funny, neither can I... But that's just what we might find ourselves doing in a couple of years. The Lab boys in Poughkeepsie are beavering away to make the 'C file system' a reality under TPF even as we speak. The signs have been there for a while of course. Gradually over the past few years they have introduced incremental changes demonstrating a clear objective of moving TPF more into the mainstream of TP systems. Key pieces of this strategy have been the introduction of ISO-C support and the forthcoming TCP/IP implementation.

Other plans include Domain Name Service (DNS), DCE (RPC and Threads) and building on the TPFOR successes at UAB.

I still think it will be an odd feeling when I get a response from a TPF system that says " Wrong file or directory"..... Oh well, I suppose that's progress.

Second thoughts at Walgreens ?

It's been two years or more since Walgreens began their project to migrate from a medium-sized TPF system to a Client/Server configuration to serve their network of over 2000 pharmacies across the continental US. Employing Chicago-based Andersen Consulting from the outset, the Illinois-based Walgreens has found out for itself how difficult it can be to replace an old, but highly specialized and efficient, transaction processing technology, with a 'grab-bag' of the latest Client/Server Unix-based systems.

Over the last year the roll-out of the new system has been halted frequently, due to poor performance and complaints from the field. Costs have exceeded the original budget considerably but Walgreens is now in the unenviable position of choosing to either continue on a course which has no certainty of success or returning to TPF and trying to salvage what they can from one of the most expensive R&D 'experiments' on record.

All the classic, and by now well-documented, problems with Client/Server implementations have surfaced so far at Walgreens. They have multiple layers of independent products, which do not always work together, despite claiming to be 'Open'; they have had to extend a building to accommodate the extra Help-Desk staff necessary to advise the field on using the new system; they have seen response times plummet for even basic transactions that need to access any centralized information.

Perhaps the saddest part of this cautionary tale is that a Walgreens publication described how the new system was only going to provide a portion of the projected improvements for the entire project. The largest part was to come from Business Process Re-engineering. If that piece had been successfully implemented, along with some of the latest TPF advances, we could well have been reporting on a major success story in Chicago. Instead we have the latest disappointment with Client/Server technology and the visions of Andersen Consulting.....

Know any good news on TPF ? Drop us a line.  


Updated: 14/05/02