Lufthansa says GDS charge ‘not subject’ of EC investigation

Lufthansa says GDS charge ‘not subject’ of EC investigation

Lufthansa has challenged Travel Weekly Europe’s report last week that the European Commission is investigating whether the airline group’s charge for GDS bookings breaches EU rules.

The Lufthansa Group imposed a €16 Distribution Cost Charge (DCC) on GDS bookings two years ago. It subsequently introduced an online booking tool for GDS-using travel agents to avoid the charge.

In a statement, Lufthansa said: “The EU commission is exclusively looking at the question [of] if the DCC-free booking-tool www.lufthansa-agent.com is in breach of the Code of Conduct for Computer Reservation Systems (CRS).

“Lufthansa is in discussion about this issue with the EU commission since two years already. A general investigation of the Distribution Cost Charge (DCC) is not [the] subject matter of the current discussions.”

A spokesman insisted: “It is not the case [that] the €16 Distribution Cost Charge is being investigated.”

However, European transport commissioner Violeta Bulc confirmed in a statement to the European Parliament last week: “The Commission is indeed investigating whether the €16 distribution cost charge introduced by the Lufthansa Group on bookings through a computerised reservation system breaches the . . . Code of Conduct for Computerised Reservation Systems.

“Commission services are working towards a final assessment and a decision will be taken once this assessment is completed.”

Her statement did not mention the DCC-free booking-tool www.lufthansa-agent.com.

Bulc also explicitly referred to British Airways and Iberia’s intention to introduce a similar GDS surcharge of €9.50 from November 1.

She said: “The commission is aware of the decision by International Airlines Group to introduce a surcharge for tickets booked for British Airways and Iberia flights through a computerised reservation system.”

The EC regulation on computerised reservation systems, or global distribution systems (GDSs), is intended to ensure “air services by all airlines are displayed in a non-discriminatory way on travel agencies’ computer screens . . . as these distribution channels might influence the consumer choice”.

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