Russia's largest airline yanked from global reservation systems

Pete Muntean and Marnie Hunter, CNNUpdated 3rd March 2022
The logo of Russia's airline Aeroflot is pictured on its tickets office in central Moscow on April 12, 2021. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP) (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)
(CNN) — The reservation system that is the backbone of airlines around the world has terminated its agreement with Aeroflot, crippling the majority government-owned carrier's ability to sell seats.
The technology company Sabre says Aeroflot has been removed from its global distribution system, meaning Russia's largest airline will not be shown in its "marketplace used by travel agencies, travel websites and corporations around the world to shop, book and service flight reservations."
"Sabre has been monitoring the evolving situation in Ukraine with increasing concern," said Sabre CEO Sean Menke in a statement. "We are taking a stand against this military conflict."
Removal from global distribution systems (GDS) is one step, but other technology services provided to Aeroflot are still in play, experts say.
Sabre has not suspended "automation services," according to airline industry analyst Robert Mann, of R.W. Mann & Company.
"Sabre provides reservations, passenger services, operations, network planning and management systems. These are core automation systems, commercial, operations and planning systems, without which airlines cannot function, except minimally and manually," Mann said via email.
In its statement, Sabre said that the company "will evaluate whether additional actions would be appropriate, taking into account legal considerations and any counter measures that could be implemented in response."
It underlined that it is complying with all sanctions in response to a question about its other services.
Suspending automation services would have a dire impact on domestic operations, says Brett Snyder, aviation blogger and president of Cranky Flier.
"Aeroflot would be forced to try to find an alternate vendor, but that is not something you can switch overnight. It would be highly disruptive, and if Sabre was serious about punishing Russia, it would be looking at ways to sever those contracts," Snyder said via email.
Another travel technology company, Amadeus, said Thursday it has started suspending the distribution of Aeroflot fares in its systems.
"We will not sign any new contracts in Russia and we continue to evaluate our existing portfolio of work in Russia in parallel," Amadeus said in a statement.
"At the same time, we continue to assess and evaluate the potential impact of international sanctions imposed on Russia and any counter-measures by Russia," the statement said.
Moves to take Aeroflot flights out of global distribution are the latest measures against Russia's aviation industry after most of the western world closed airspace to Russian aircraft.
Earlier this week, Boeing and Airbus said they would no longer do business with Russian customers.
Boeing has suspended major operations in Moscow and temporarily closed its office in Kyiv and has suspended "parts, maintenance and technical support services for Russian airlines," the company said in a statement.
"Airbus has suspended support services to Russian airlines, as well as the supply of spare parts to the country," Airbus said in a statement.
Last week, Delta Air Lines ended its codeshare booking agreement with Aeroflot.
The travel sector is among many industries suspending ties with Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. In addition to impacts in aviation, tour companies and cruise lines have halted and rerouted operations involving Russia.