Six airlines have banded together to create a rival to Priceline.com's discount ticketing business. All of the airlines involved now sell tickets through Priceline and will continue to do so. Most of the stories quoted Priceline's chief Jay Walker saying seemingly reasonable things about how it's unlikely the airline consortium's new service, Hotwire, will affect his company's prospects, but reporters' skepticism was apparent, and Priceline's stock price dropped 8 percent yesterday.
The Washington Post's Frank Swoboda took the space to explain in detail how Hotwire's workings will differ from the notoriously convoluted process that Priceline now puts ticket buyers through. Hotwire will list unsold tickets with offering prices. The New York Times noted that if Hotwire makes the process too easy, the airlines risk losing revenue from business travelers who now pay top dollar for last-minute seats.
CBS MarketWatch concentrated on Priceline's stock's prospects. quoting analysts skeptical of the Hotwire effort and supportive of Priceline, such as Robertson Stephens (dossier)' Lauren Levitan: "Investors still haven't learned that just having some cash, some partners and a press release does not make a leader." The New York Times noted that 18 of the 19 analysts following Priceline's stock still rate it "buy" or "strong buy." - Keith Dawson
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