Open AXIS, the new organization that is seeking to establish technical standards for the sale of airline ancillary services, signed a memorandum of understanding to work with the OpenTravel Alliance.

The agreement is designed to dispel the confusion surrounding the new group's intent, according to Jim Young, Open AXIS' executive director.

"It is not our intent to usurp OpenTravel's role," he said.

The groups issued a joint statement saying, "Under the terms of the agreement, the two organizations agree to work together to align their standards with one another. Both groups will cooperate fully in their efforts to advocate and promote an optimal electronic messaging structure for airline system connectivity used in content distribution while allowing each organization to maintain its individual goals and objectives."

Open AXIS was formed in July by Air Canada, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and US Airways. ATPCO, the fares management and distribution company, joined as a "founding allied member."

The carriers said they wanted to promote "a standardized XML schema as the optimal electronic messaging structure for airline system connectivity used in content distribution."

Since OpenTravel also is working to develop a schema for the same purpose, the new group raised some concerns among "technology providers and distributors who didn't have place at the [Open AXIS] table," Valyn Perini, executive director of OpenTravel, said. They were concerned that if an airline said providers would have to work with "this or that schema, they would have to support both types," she said.

Some third-party technology providers have privately expressed resentment of the apparent need to join another organization.

Since its formation, Frontier Airlines has joined Open AXIS.

AOI Marketing, ARC, Datalex, eNett International, Everbread, Farelogix, Guestlogix, LUTE Technologies, Mobiata, Navitaire, PASS Consulting Group, Radixx International, Traveldata, Tripit, Vayant Technologies and have joined as allied members.

Open AXIS' schema, available on its website, was contributed by Farelogix, which has been working with several major carriers, including some of the Open AXIS founders, on developing direct-connect strategies to enable the sale of ancillary services and other merchandising initiatives through travel management companies.

Young said there are differences between the two groups. OpenTravel is "pan-travel," while Open AXIS is focused on distribution of airline content and product, he said.

"Our models are different as well," he said. "OpenTravel is the community model, and we're more of a shared services model. The airlines pay us to develop and maintain the standard."

Airlines want "to own and maintain their own standard," he said.

Perini said that under the MOU, no money changes hands.

Open AXIS has "the same standing as anybody else" within OpenTravel to bring forth a business problem that a schema could solve, she said.

It is "less clear" how OpenTravel would function within Open AXIS, she said, adding that it is still a young organization.

Young said nothing has changed in terms of Open AXIS' goals.

The two organizations will work on "an equal basis. At the same time, we will move forward at a good clip," he said.

He noted that the industry is moving into "conference season," so when Perini proposed the MOU, he felt that the two groups should "get some visible cooperation going. Let's answer the question before it gets asked over and over at conferences.