British Airways and Iberia fares booked through a GDS will carry an €9.50 (£8) surcharge on “each fare component” from next week, meaning a €19 (£16) fee on even a simple return fare.
BA and sister carrier Iberia are sticking to their November 1 deadline for introducing the ‘distribution technology charge’ announced in May, despite failing to have ready the portal presented as an alternative distribution channel.
When BA announced the charge it insisted it would apply “to any bookings not made using an NDC-based connection or through our websites, airline sales offices and call centres”.
NDC is airline association Iata’s ‘New Distribution Capability’ standard aimed at enabling airlines to retail through indirect channels in the same way as direct.
Yet in a series of agreements with leading TMCs and some leisure agencies in recent weeks BA and Iberia have waived the fee for businesses agreeing “to work collaboratively with us in delivering NDC content” or willing “to make the technical connections required for NDC”.
Agents covered by the agreements will continue to book via a participating GDS without any fee.
Announcing a deal with American Express Global Business Travel, BA global head of sales Stephen Humphreys conceded BA and Iberia had agreed for “bookings to be made through existing platforms without any charge”.
However, Amadeus is the only GDS involved in the agreements.
Bookings through the Travelport GDSs and Sabre will attract the charge unless there are last-minute deals. The fee will appear as part of the total fare, identified as a Q charge.
Agents will be able to avoid the fee on certain flights by booking via BA or Iberia partners, for example by booking a US flight through American Airlines.
IAG-owned BA and Iberia claim GDSs “carry significantly greater costs” than direct bookings and the fee covers these.
However, a detailed study of distribution costs published this week suggests otherwise.
The study by aviation economic consultancy Infrata concludes carriers omit “unavoidable costs” of direct distribution when making comparisons to third-party costs, with the underlying aim of “curtailing consumer access to independent booking channels”.
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