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Value of a Platform to a Seller: Case of American Airlines and Online Travel Agencies

  • Volodymyr Bilotkach

    ()

    (Newcastle University, Department of Economics)

  • Nicholas G. Rupp

    ()

    (East Carolina University, Department of Economics)

  • Vivek Pai

    ()

    (University of California, Irvine, and KBB Department of Economics)

We approach the issue of the value of a platform to a seller in a two-sided market where both buyers and sellers multi-home. A seller that loses access to a major buyer platform can potentially incur substantial financial losses. We exploit a recent conflict between American Airlines and two leading online travel agencies (Expedia and Orbitz), which dropped American Airlines fare quotes during the first quarter of 2011. We present a simple model of airline ticket distribution. This model provides a framework to analyze the events that happened in the American Airlines – online travel agency conflict. We analyze price data for the first quarter of 2010 and 2011, employing a simple difference-in-differences identification strategy to evaluate changes in American Airlines’ fares. After controlling for across-market heterogeneity, carrier-specific time-invariant effects, and time-specific carrier-invariant effects, American Airlines’ fares during the conflict were 2.7-4.2 percent lower than similar fares charged by American’s main competitors (United, Continental, Delta, and US Airways). The fare effect is most pronounced in the sub-sample of one-stop itineraries, where competition is stronger, and customers are more likely to have to rely on travel agents – rather than carriers’ own web-sites – for flight bookings. In sum, our findings indicate that access to major buyer platforms is considerably valuable to a seller. We estimate that during the first quarter of 2011 the loss of access to the Expedia/Orbitz platforms resulted in over $50 million reduction in revenue for American Airlines.

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Paper provided by NET Institute in its series Working Papers with number 13-08.

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Date of creation: Sep 2013
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Handle: RePEc:net:wpaper:1308
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.NETinst.org/

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  1. Elena Argentesi & Lapo Filistrucchi, 2007. "Estimating market power in a two-sided market: The case of newspapers," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(7), pages 1247-1266.
  2. Kaiser, Ulrich & Wright, Julian, 2006. "Price structure in two-sided markets: Evidence from the magazine industry," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 1-28, January.
  3. repec:dgr:kubtil:2012029 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Jihui Chen, 2006. "Differences in Average Prices on the Internet: Evidence from the Online Market for Air Travel," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 44(4), pages 656-670, October.
  5. Ambarish Chandra & Allan Collard-Wexler, 2009. "Mergers in Two-Sided Markets: An Application to the Canadian Newspaper Industry," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(4), pages 1045-1070, December.
  6. Jean-Charles Rochet & Jean Triole, 2002. "Platform Competition in Two Sided Markets," FMG Discussion Papers dp409, Financial Markets Group.
  7. Diego Escobari & Li Gan, 2007. "Price Dispersion under Costly Capacity and Demand Uncertainty," NBER Working Papers 13075, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Reisinger, Markus, 2012. "Platform competition for advertisers and users in media markets," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 243-252.
  9. repec:rje:randje:v:37:y:2006:3:p:645-667 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Eric K. Clemons & Il-Horn Hann & Lorin M. Hitt, 2002. "Price Dispersion and Differentiation in Online Travel: An Empirical Investigation," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 48(4), pages 534-549, April.
  11. Marc Rysman, 2009. "The Economics of Two-Sided Markets," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(3), pages 125-43, Summer.
  12. Bilotkach, Volodymyr, 2010. "Reputation, search cost, and airfares," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 16(5), pages 251-257.
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