RealTime IT News

Hotwire Scores a Delta Deal

Discount online travel site Hotwire signed a ticket sales deal with Delta Air Lines in a marketing move that lets the site offer discounted fares at all seven of the nation's largest full-service airlines.

San Francisco-based Hotwire, a privately held company that launched in 2000 and is backed by investment firm Texas Pacific Group, lists as founding airline partners: America West, American Airlines, Continental, Northwest, United and US Airways.

Hotwire negotiates discounted deals with its airline, hotel and car rental partners; however, consumers using the service do not know about booking details like flight times or numbers until after their purchases are made.

"With the addition of Delta, we now have better availability and a greater selection of destinations ... " said Gregg Brockway, Hotwire executive vice president of corporate development.

Delta, the No. 3 U.S. carrier, has long had a marketing deal and investment in rival travel site Priceline.com, the name-your-own-price travel site.

But Delta has been losing money for the past year and a half, and no doubt hopes the Hotwire deal will help on the bottom line by filling some otherwise empty seats. Delta also is a backer of the Orbitz airline consortium site.

"We don't expect this to have any impact on our relationship with Priceline," Tom Donahue, a Delta spokesman, was quoted as saying by the Wall Street Journal. "We observed, as so many others have, that Hotwire has become a major consumer Internet brand."

Indeed, travelers have been hitting the Web in droves, searching for special deals and fares for one last summer escape, recent measurement research indicates, but the airlines are still suffering from the events of Sept. 11 last year. US Airways is in bankruptcy for instance, and United Airlines is trying hard to stave off the same fate.