Financial check: A quarterly analysis of the major GDS players

Guest Contributor

Contributors are not employed, compensated or governed by TD, opinions and statements are from the contributor directly

This month, three of the major GDS providers in the industry – Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport, released their quarterly reports, all of them denoting an upward trend and recording considerable profits. Here’s the rundown of the number, and what this means for the rest of us:


  • Revenue increased 4.6% to EUR 3,683.8 million, EBITDA grew 8.6%, to EUR 1,588.0 million
  • In the Distribution segment, travel agency air bookings grew 2.4% to EUR 444.8 million
  • In IT Solutions, Passengers Boarded increased 13.8% to EUR 1,397.3 million


  • Net revenue increased 2% to USD 623 million
  • Travel Commerce Platform revenue increased 2% to USD 598 million
  • Beyond Air revenue increased 14% to USD 193 million, contributing 32% of Travel Commerce Platform revenue (Q3 2017: 29%);
  • eNett net revenue increased 58% to USD 86 million
  • Net cash provided by operating activities decreased by 13% to USD 83 million


  • Third quarter revenue increased 7.7% to USD 970.3 million
  • Travel Network revenue rose 10.7%; bookings grew 7.7%
  • Airline Solutions revenue increased 1.1%
  • Hospitality Solutions revenue grew 3.1%
  • Cash provided by operating activities increased by 9.2% to USD 194.4 million

Comparison at a glance

Revenue growth (in %) 7.7% 2% 4.6%
Net income increase (adjusted EBIDTA) 4.3% 2% 8.6%
Free Cash Flow increase by 17.5% -24% 1.7%
Cash from operating activities increased by 9.2% -13% 4.6%

Growth drivers

While Amadeus’s results in the third quarter continued to be negatively impacted by the USD / Euro exchange rate fluctuation, it was to a lesser extent than in the first two quarters of the year.

Luis Maroto, president and CEO of Amadeus, attributed the growth to new contracts and said: “We signed or renewed distribution agreements with 11 carriers, including Aerolíneas Argentinas, Norwegian and Porter Airlines, amounting to a total of 35 for the first nine months of the year. We also increased our customer base on our Airline IT business, with carriers such as Bangkok Airways signing up for the full Altéa Suite.”

He also said that the rollout of the Guest Reservation System (GRS) with InterContinental Hotels Group is almost complete, with over 95% of its hotels already migrated. This along with the acquisition of TravelClick (as announced in August) will be a significant driver of growth for their hospitality business in the near future.

Gordon Wilson, president and CEO of Travelport, commented: “The continued strong performance of Beyond Air, driven by our virtual payments business eNett, helped us overcome the more challenging market and customer environment we anticipated for the second half of the year.”

He highlighted the major growth factors as their ongoing focus on the efficiency of the cost base, commercial wins and the ongoing investments in the key areas viz. travel content; search, merchandising and shopping capabilities; and mobile, data and payments solutions.

Travelport made history by becoming the first GDS to transact the booking of flights using IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) API protocol. These initiatives will contribute to the onboarding of new business next year, alongside the continued growth of eNett.

“We benefit from a transaction-driven business model with recurring revenue driven by continued volume growth at our customers across the travel ecosystem,” said Sean Menke, Sabre president and CEO. He also said they are “winning in the marketplace” and their third quarter air booking share gain of over two points is a testimony to that.

Key markets

While the Asia Pacific and North America continued to be fastest growing regions for travel agency air bookings for Amadeus for the first time its bookings in Western Europe declined, impacted by the industry weakness and the slippage of market share at some European mid-size online travel agencies and increased competition in the market.

Travelport consolidated its position in India by concluding long-term deals to distribute the content of Air India and Jet Airways, in both cases as the preferred distributor and their our exclusive distribution contract with IndiGo. This will give them additional advantage in India and key markets beyond it.

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