American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) and Flight Centre Travel Group have reached deals with British Airways and Iberia to avoid the airlines’ surcharge on global distribution system (GDS) bookings from November 1.
However, both companies will continue to access BA and Iberia fares via GDSs.
BA global head of sales Stephen Humphreys confirmed of the American Express GBT deal: “We’re pleased to have agreed a model for bookings to be made through existing platforms without any additional charge.”
Flight Centre Travel Group said the deal with BA and Iberia would see the airlines waive the GDS charge on bookings in the UK and Ireland.
In a statement Flight Centre said: “Other European and global markets will follow suit where technically feasible.”
IAG-owned BA and Iberia announced in May that they will impose an £8 (€9.50) fee or ‘distribution technology charge’ on all GDS bookings from November.
American Express GBT clients will avoid the fee in return for the TMC agreeing “a multi-year deal to work with the airlines on future GDS distribution” in line with airline association IATA’s new distribution technology (NDC) standard.
Rival travel management company (TMC) HRG confirmed its own deal with BA and Iberia to avoid the GDS surcharge last week.
In a statement, American Express GBT said: “The agreement applies to all GDS bookings, though each GDS is required to agree to the new arrangement with the airlines.
“Until now, one GDS has done so. British Airways, Iberia and American Express GBT remain in active dialogue with the others.”
Amadeus is the only GDS to have agreed deals with BA and Iberia.
The TMC added: “American Express GBT, BA, Iberia and the GDSs will work together to evaluate how new distribution capabilities (NDC) could bring value to managed travel programmes.”
Flight Centre Travel Group has also agreed to “work closely with BA and Iberia on developing the future roadmap of New Distribution Capability (NDC) with a view to begin integrating content via this channel during 2018” in return for the carriers waiving the fee in the UK.
The agreement extends to Flight Centre’s corporate travel division FCM Travel Solutions.
American Express GBT executive vice president for global supplier relations Michael Qualantone said: “This agreement recognises the value of our existing relationship as well as future opportunities that may exist to bring value to clients and travellers using NDC.
“We continue to believe the GDS channel provides the best value to our clients and travellers, as it has the most comprehensive access to supplier content, the best pricing and shopping environment, and most cost-effective booking process.
“However, if there are valuable products the GDSs can’t currently make available, it is important to explore alternative technology capabilities.”
The BA and Iberia deal with Hogg Robinson Group (HRG) announced last week excludes the UK, Italy and Switzerland.
The airlines have announced similar deals with the UK-based Lotus Group, which operates DialAFlight and Supertravel, and leisure agency Travel Up.
As things stand, the £8 fee will apply to GDS bookings of BA and Iberia by other TMCs and travel agencies from November 1.
Lufthansa Group imposed a similar €16 ‘Distribution Cost Charge’ on GDS bookings of Lufthansa, Swiss, Brussels and Austrian Airlines flights in 2015.
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