A groundswell of trade opposition is mounting against Lufthansa Group’s plans to impose a €16 fee for bookings via global distribution systems from September.

The US-based Business Travel Coalition weighed into the row last night, describing the proposal as “anti-competitive and anti-consumer”.

The coalition called on the German competition authority to investigate Lufthansa for a possible abuse of a dominant market position.

It warned that if successfully forced on the industry, the scheme could spread throughout Europe, North America and elsewhere.

The BTC said: “Lufthansa Group claims that the goal of its distribution cost charge is again to reduce distribution costs.

“However, that claim is belied by the fact that the surcharge would not be applied to the two most expensive Lufthansa Group distribution outlets – its own airport ticket offices and reservation centres.

“Distribution cost charge is an extension of some major US and European carriers’ relentless war on price transparency and competition, a war that is all about protecting and increasing revenue.

“Lufthansa Group appears to be pursuing a strategy to drive new revenue levels – all generated from consumers and the managed-travel community.”

The Scottish Passenger Agents Association earlier described the plans as “entirely unacceptable” and demanded an urgent meeting with Lufthansa management in protest.

Amadeus warned that the charge will penalise passengers while the airline justified its plans by arguing that GDS costs are too high and agents will have to book direct on the Lufthansa group website lhgroup-agents.com to avoid the fee.