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.

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