Sharaf ditches Galileo for Sabre

Rapidly expanding travel agency chain Sharaftravel has ended its 15-year relationship with Galileo and switched to rival GDS Sabre. The Dubai-headquartered company has also transferred its improved online booking system to the Sabre network and has revealed plans to expand its retail empire into new markets including Iran and Saudi Arabia.

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By  Gemma Hornett Published  May 1, 2006

Rapidly expanding travel agency chain Sharaftravel has ended its 15-year relationship with Galileo and switched to rival GDS Sabre. The Dubai-headquartered company has also transferred its improved online booking system to the Sabre network and has revealed plans to expand its retail empire into new markets including Iran and Saudi Arabia. “We have used Galileo since 1991, but have recently been approached by the other GDS systems and decided that Sabre’s terms and conditions were better,” explained Salah Sharaf, chairman, Sharaftravel. “I think Sabre values us more than Galileo.” He emphasised there was “nothing wrong with Galileo’s system” but that staff feedback revealed Sabre was “more user-friendly”. “It’s more streamlined than other GDS systems and more information is guaranteed, such as taxes,” said Fabian Fernandes, branch manager, Sharaftravel Bur Dubai. “The technology is more advanced; for example, when you ask for the best airfares, most systems automatically give you economy class fares, but with Sabre, you can specify class.” The Sabre team switched over Sharaftravel’s system to Sabre, trained staff and installed new equipment within a 24-hour period at the end of last month. Sharaftravel’s web booking system, found at www.sharaftravel.com, was also transferred to Sabre and now boasts an e-commerce facility enabling customers to pay online by credit card. Sabre system has been rolled across all 12 Sharaftravel branches, nine of which are in Dubai and the other three in Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Muscat. “We are planning to open another branch in Abu Dhabi, one in Ras Al Khaimah, and we’re looking to expand into Saudi Arabia and Iran within the next three years,” Sharaf told ATN. The agency is currently the GSA for seven international airlines and was preparing to add three more to the list, Bangkok Airways, China’s Hainan Airways, and “another Asia airline” as ATN went to press. Hotel representation deals are also in the pipeline.

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