The recent flap over Air Canada's withdrawal of its Tango fares from the GDSs is unlikely to dampen airlines' enthusiasm for the kind of "product differentiation" that Tango represents.And far from being opposed to the concept, some of the GDS companies are making strides in their attempts to accommodate the airlines' desires.

Amadeus plans to be aggressive in this new arena, Stephane Pingaud, senior manager of airline marketing and sales, said, and plans to roll out new merchandising features beginning next year.

"We are working in a number of directions to enhance the way we merchandise airline products," he said.

Amadeus embarked on a fact-finding mission with airlines around the world last year to determine how best to "improve our proposition," Pingaud said.

The results gave Amadeus a strong indication that airlines want GDS companies to play a role in maximizing airlines' revenues, and one of the best ways to achieve that goal is to "integrate an upselling capability, similar to the way airlines market themselves to the end consumer," he said.

More than half of the European carriers said "stronger merchandising power" was the main reason they invest in dedicated agency Web sites.

"When we asked them what they thought GDSs should concentrate on, 52% said they wanted us improve the way we present their product," Pingaud said. "They told us, 'We're investing millions in the inflight experience, so make sure people know about it.'"

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