Lufthansa’s cheapest fares from London and Manchester will not be available via global distribution systems from Thursday this week as the airline group introduces discounted ‘NDC Smart Offer’ fares in the UK and Ireland.

One-way economy ‘light’ and ‘classic’ Smart Offer fares on Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian Airlines flights will be £9 cheaper and return fares £17 cheaper than the lowest GDS fares. Agents who book direct will also escape the £11.30 GDS ‘distribution cost charge’ the group imposes, as will consumers, meaning a combined saving of £20.30 on a one-way ticket.

The move is the latest salvo by Europe’s leading network carriers – Lufthansa, British Airways, Iberia and Air France-KLM – to cut GDS distribution costs by driving corporate and leisure agents and tour operators to book via online portals or direct-connect channels in line with Iata’s New Distribution Capability (NDC).

Agents can only access the fares by joining Lufthansa’s NDC Partner Programme, registering with the group’s web-based SPRK platform or booking online.

Lufthansa introduced similar discount fares in Germany in early April. The group is offering a €1-per-coupon incentive on every booking to agents who sign up with SPRK between now and the end of the year.

Andreas Koester, Lufthansa senior sales director for the UK, confirmed: “The fares are only available through NDC and online channels. The incentive of €1 per coupon means if you sell a London-Frankfurt return ticket you receive €2.”

He said: “SPRK is for smaller agencies who will not go into API [data transfer] discussions with us to allow them to get NDC offers.”

Koester said the group is “in discussions with many agencies” but declined to give figures on agents’ take-up of the non-GDS channels in the UK or Germany.

He dismissed concerns about agents’ ability to compare airline offers without fares being displayed on GDSs, saying: “Fare comparison depends on the multi-sourcing technology of the agency.”