In the past several days we’ve seen countries around the world close their airspace to Russian airlines, due to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. One company has just terminated an agreement with Aeroflot, and this will arguably have more implications on Aeroflot’s ability to operate than anything else we’ve seen up until this point.
Sabre terminates Aeroflot contract
Sabre is a leading software technology company in the travel industry, which powers many airlines’ reservations systems. It has today been announced that Sabre is ending its distribution agreement with Aeroflot.
Sabre is removing Aeroflot flight content from its global distribution system, which is the marketplace used by travel agencies, travel websites, and corporations around the world to shop, book, and service flight reservations. This basically leaves Russia’s government-owned airline in a position where it can no longer sell tickets.
However, it’s worth noting that Sabre isn’t yet terminating its agreement with Aeroflot for other flight management functions. If that were to happen the airline wouldn’t just struggle to sell seats, but would struggle to operate any flights.
As Sabre CEO Sean Menke describes this:
“Sabre has been monitoring the evolving situation in Ukraine with increasing concern. From the beginning, our primary focus has been the safety of our team members in the impacted region, as well as doing our part to support the much-needed relief efforts. We are taking a stand against this military conflict. We are complying, and will continue to comply, with sanctions imposed against Russia. In addition, today we announced that Sabre has terminated its distribution agreement with Aeroflot, removing its content from our GDS.”
Sabre will continue monitoring this ongoing situation, and will evaluate whether additional actions are appropriate, taking into account legal considerations and any counter measures that could be implemented in response (which I suspect is why other functions haven’t been cut off yet).
Sabre has also donated $1 million to the Polish Red Cross, which will be used to purchase food, hygiene products, and sleeping bags, for those seeking shelter in Poland.
Well done, Sabre!
It’s not often I think to myself “way to go, big faceless for-profit corporation, you rock!” But in this case I’d like to say “way to go, Sabre, you rock!”
While the airspace bans we’ve seen implemented so far have ramifications for Russia, they pale in comparison to a global distribution system cutting off Sabre. At the end of the day most airlines are reliant on independent technology companies to actually sell flights, as well as perform all kinds of other flight management functions.
It’s great to see Sabre taking a stand, because this will have a worse impact on Aeroflot’s ability to operate than just about anything else imaginable.
This situation is of course complicated, in the sense the Russian people aren’t to blame for this (most are great people), but rather Putin’s regime is. Putin isn’t going to be directly harmed by not being able to fly Aeroflot, and for that matter, neither are the uber-wealthy people surrounding Putin.
However, realistically one likely path to Putin losing power is if Russians get fed up enough and revolt. As much as that sucks, placing as many sanctions against Russia as possible is the most likely path to that happening.
Travel technology company Sabre has terminated its agreement with Aeroflot. That means Aeroflot can no longer sell tickets through traditional means. Now here’s to hoping that Sabre takes it a step further, and cuts off Aeroflot’s flight management systems as well. Good luck to Aeroflot… the airline will need it.
(Tip of the hat to @TheFlying_Hippo)