Marriott quits AMR-led reservations partnership

July 18, 1992|By Bloomberg Business News

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Marriott Corp. confirmed yesterday that it has abandoned a partnership led by AMR Corp. that was formed to develop a new travel industry reservation network.

"Yes, Marriott has withdrawn from the Confirm partnership and we are in negotiations with AMR," Marriott Vice President Roger Conner said.

The two other partners, Hilton Hotels Corp. and Budget Rent-A-Car, said in late June that they had abandoned the $125 million computer project, which became mired in technical problems. Marriott, however, had refused to discuss the project.

AMR, the parent of American Airlines, took a $109 million charge to its second-quarter earnings from the collapse of the 4-year-old project.

In discussing the loss, Mike Durham, AMR's chief financial officer, said earlier this week that AMR made an "offer" to the former partners that will expire at the end of the month.

He declined to elaborate on the terms of the offer. None of the partners contacted would say whether a settlement had been reached.

"That would not be information that I would have," Mr. Conner said.

Tim Hermeling, a spokesman for Budget in Chicago, said AMR presented the partners with several options, but he declined to comment further. "We have selected one of the options, and we are talking with American," he said.

Confirm was envisioned as a computerized reservation system that would allow travelers to book airline tickets, hotel rooms and rental cars simultaneously.

AMR Information Services was to develop the computer system. The partners intended to combine their existing reservation systems and sell Confirm services to other companies in the travel industry.

This spring, however, AMR fired eight top managers involved in the project after uncovering technical problems it said could delay Confirm's scheduled July debut by up to 18 months.

Mr. Durham said he thinks Confirm problems will be resolved without legal action, although Mr. Hermeling said Budget still was considering its options.

"We have not ruled anything in or out at this point," he said. "We do have relationships going back many years, and we still are working with American. As to what we are doing, we regard that as between us and them."

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