The largest European based GDS (Global Distribution System), Amadeus has just turned 20 years old a week ago, as it was officially established 21OCT1987 by four European Airlines: Iberia, Air France, Lufthansa and SAS. The four airlines wished to create a European GDS by merging their own computer reservation systems. The basis of the new GDS was System One, an existing US reservation system.
Within a year they have opened their headquarters in Madrid, Spain, their development center in Nice, France, and have started construction on the new Data Center, in Erding, Germany. In 1989 they have launched AmadeusPro to allow travel agents to book flights through neutral screens, while already 11 airlines were Amadeus users. One year later the Erding Data Center opened, which costed $200 million altogether, and was capable of handling 150 million transactions in the first year. 1991 saw 45.000 terminals being connected to Amadeus, while in 1992 the new Amadeus GDS was launched with the first PNR being booked for Mr. Wolfgang Amadeus. In the first year 70 million bookings were created. 1993 saw more than 10 million bookings each month, as well as 60% of European Travel Agencies were connected to 1A (1A is the two letter IATA code of Amadeus GDS). In 1994 Austrian Airlines joined the distribution system as the 100th airline selling through Amadeus. One year later Amadeus fully acquired System One from Continental Airlines, thus becoming the largest GDS in terms of travel agency locations. In 1996 www.amadeus.net was launched, while bookings topped 309 million. Only about 50% of old System One users accepted the forced migration to Amadeus. In 1997 Amadeus celebrated its 10 year anniversary, while serving 32% of the travel agency market worldwide, and the first Amadeus powered travel website was also launched by Icelandair.
In 1998, the first year of their second decade, they launched the SAP Travel Management tool, which is fully integrated with SAP’s finance and HR modules, and their data center handled one million transactions in a single day for the first time. By 1999, around 80 airlines and 3000 travel agencies rely on 1A e-commerce solutions, and this is the year, when 1A launches the world’s first neutral Electronic Ticketing solution: the Amadeus E-Ticket Server (ETS). In 2000 and 2001 Amadeus lays down the plans for the coming years, by starting development on Vista (a browser based version of their reservation system), on new Inventory and Departure Control Systems (for British Airways and Qantas as the first customers), as well as announcing the new Altéa Customer Management Solution. In 2003 the annual number of bookings passes the 400 million mark, while new airlines launch their websites based on 1A, among them bmi and Qantas. In 2005 Amadeus shifts its “identity” to become “Your Technology Partner”, and repositions itself as a leading Airline IT service provider. To support this change, they win a major contract to support the Star Alliance with a new Common IT Platform for all member airlines. Last year Amadeus handled 499 million bookings, and by 2007 they provide 192 airlines with their e-Ticketing. This year they have launched MoneyDirect as a Joint Venture with Sabre.
As the leading Airline IT provider, they provide the capacity for common shared access to flight reservations and frequent flyer information to nearly 150 airlines as Amadeus Altéa Reservation airlines (formerly known as System User). Current Amadeus Altéa Reservation customers include:
And with the Common IT Platform for Star, this number will raise in the future. As we can see, in the first 18 years Amadeus focused on the travel agencies (and seems like they have won on that front being the leader on the market), and now they start to focus on Airlines. If they are as successful on this market as with the travel agencies, they may be the largest player in this field as well, within the next few years. It looks like they have started down the right path to do that.