Skift Take

Airlines have been shaking up how they sell and distribute their airfares and ancillaries. Priceline is one of a few brands striving to keep pace through acquisitions or research and development.

Priceline has acquired Flyiin, a travel startup whose business-to-business services help airlines sell their airfares through travel agencies, Skift has learned.

The companies didn’t disclose the deal terms. Flyiin, based in Berlin, had raised only $2.7 million (€2.4 million) since its founding in 2015.

“It’s a small acquisition connected to building out our flights’ strategy globally across Booking Holdings,” said Leslie Cafferty, a spokesperson for Bookings Holdings, the U.S.-headquartered owner of Priceline and other brands, such as, Kayak, and Agoda.

The Flyiin name will go away. Priceline will integrate the startup’s half-dozen employees into its flight product and engineering teams. The team will focus on flight search, booking, payment, and servicing. Priceline has advertised for five engineering positions to support scaling up the technology’s application.

“Our flights business remains an important strategic component of our Connected Trip vision across Booking Holdings,” said Christina Bennett, a spokesperson for Priceline, referring to the company’s strategy of offering a full array of products along with a payments’ platform.

“We anticipate it will represent an increasing mix of our overall business in the coming years,” Bennett said.

Helping Digest Airline Data Feeds

Since 2018, Flyiin has been aggregating airline data feeds, called APIs, or application programming interfaces. While airlines have long distributed some content via such interfaces, the effort has taken on a fresh push in the past couple of years as carriers adopt more modern and sophisticated techniques for distributing their fares and ancillaries.

“With the acquisition of Flyiin, we will be able to leverage their technology to help onboard new flight partners even more efficiently,” Bennett said.

According to a job posting at Priceline, the software developers would work with a technical product manager to integrate a large number of airline APIs while achieving a consistent level of functionality and content.

In 2018, Flyiin pivoted from a consumer search focus to become a pure business-to-business technology firm helping airlines distribute their fares and ancillaries using more modern methods, such as with coding based on the programming language Elixir.

Flyiin is one of a wave of organizations, including startups Duffel, Mystifly, and ATPCO, attempting to help airlines with fare distribution

Flyiin co-founder and CEO Stéphane Pingaud has become senior director, flight strategy, at Priceline. He declined an interview request.

The startup began in 2015 with the aspiration of becoming a consumer-facing business. It attempted to develop a flight price-comparison search tool that excludes third parties such as online travel agencies and only showed directly bookable fares. While some airlines, such as Lufthansa Group, took part, not enough participated, and finding online travelers to book through it was difficult.

Booking Holdings has been broadly quiet on the mergers-and-acquisitions front during the pandemic, but it has pursued some partnerships instead.

In March, Booking Holdings price-comparison brand Kayak moved into the hotel operation sector by opening a Miami Beach property in partnership with the startup Life House, which Skift profiled.

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Tags: acquisitions, airlines, ancillaries, booking holdings, distribution, mergers and acquisitions, priceline, startups, travel startups

Photo credit: The 2020 photo of the engine cover of a Lufthansa Airbus A380 at Frankfurt Airport. Lufthansa is one of the airlines that offer APIs that can be more easily managed by Flyiin, a startup Priceline has just acquired. Oliver Roesler / Lufthansa Group

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