Lufthansa’s imposition of a €16 fee on GDS bookings marks “an all-out assault” on agents and the industry "cannot accept it", according to Advantage Travel Partnership corporate director Ken McLeod (pictured).
"This is fundamental," he said. “It will be the thin end of the wedge if they get away with it. Every carrier will follow suit.”
Lufthansa announced last week that a distribution cost charge would apply to all GDS bookings from September 1.
The carrier’s full content agreement with main GDS partner Amadeus expired two days before the announcement.
McLeod said: “It’s distasteful the way in which [Lufthansa] has gone about it, with no discussion. There is a certain arrogance about it.
“It’s an all-out assault on the travel agent community. The industry can’t afford to accept it.”
McLeod queried how agents would use the new web platform Lufthansa has set up to bypass the GDS charge and the GDSs.
Agents won’t be able to pay through Iata’s Billing and Settlement Plan, so they will have to use the traveller’s card.
Agents could switch-sell away from Lufthansa.
McLeod said: “On many routes we have a choice and it’s possible to sell away from Lufthansa.
“We can’t not sell Lufthansa, but where there is an alternative, you can offer it.
“Lufthansa appears to be no friend of travel agents or travel management companies (TMCs).
“It claims GDS fees cost it three-digit millions annually. But it is where the airline gets a large proportion of its business.”
McLeod conceded: “GDSs make payments to some TMCs and airlines don’t like it. There may have to be a rebalancing of remuneration.”
But he insisted: “If agents start selling away from Lufthansa, that will make a difference.”
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