Airlines Catch The Marketplace Bug

Six major airlines--Air France, American, British Airways, Continental, Delta, and United--announced plans to create a marketplace for annual purchases of items such as fuel, engines, and maintenance services.

The six will jointly create an as-yet-unnamed company to manage the site, which will be based in the United States. The airlines declined to say how much of a financial stake each would take in the company.

Analysts see a direct correlation to the recent automobile marketplace announced by Ford, General Motors, and DaimlerChrysler. Like its predecessors, the airline industry is trying to streamline purchasing and costs.

"There is an opportunity, given [that] there would be a standard way to automate the information that goes along with these business transactions, that [this move] will lower costs for everyone involved," says Dan Sholler, an analyst with Meta Group. "This exchange could have a tremendous impact on U.S. suppliers. They are eliminating the manual effort on the buyer side as well as the supplier side."

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