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Travelocity Founder Moving On

The man credited with founding Travelocity.com is departing the operation, less than a month after parent company Sabre Holdings Corp. bought up all the outstanding shares it didn't already own and took it under its corporate wing.

Fort Worth, Texas-based travel services company Sabre said that Travelocity CEO Terrell B. Jones "is retiring" after 24 years with Sabre during which he served as chief information officer, president of computer services and president of decision technology.

Jones had run Travelocity from the get-go. The company began trading on Nasdaq in March 2000 after completion of its merger with Preview Travel. It was launched by Sabre in 1996.

"We had suspected that a desire to shake up top management at faltering Travelocity was a motivation for Sabre's buyout, and Jones's retirement seems to confirm that view," said analyst David Kathman at Morningstar.

"Terry Jones is truly one of the pioneers of online travel," said William J. Hannigan, chairman and chief executive officer of Sabre. "Under his leadership, Travelocity has developed a strong brand that symbolizes trust and reliability ... This has helped the company achieve profitability for the past five quarters. We thank Terry for his leadership and wish him well in his future endeavors."

The "future endeavors" language would certainly seem to imply that although Jones may be retiring from Travelocity, he's not necessarily retiring from the world of online businesses.

Both Travelocity and rival Expedia are engaged in a struggle with the airline-backed site Orbitz, and lately Expedia's stock price has gone through the roof, topping $80 a share.

Still, although travel has been a bright spot in the world of e-commerce, the sector is not without its casualties, as witness Lowestfare.com's recent decision to bag air travel ticket sales.

Meanwhile, Sam Gilliland, Sabre's executive vice president and chief marketing officer, was named to replace Jones. Eric J. Speck, executive vice president and president of the company's Travel Marketing and Distribution business unit, replaces Gilliland.