Travel buyers and business travel suppliers are being urged to join a new campaigning group set up following Lufthansa Group’s decision to begin charging a €16 fee for booking through a GDS.
The Business Travel Coalition, a US-based lobbying group, has formed Air Channel Choice in response to Lufthansa’s planned implementation of its ‘Distribution Cost Charge’ (DCC) from September 1, which has already caused protest among the business travel industry.
Air Channel Choice is being billed as a “broad coalition of global stakeholders to promote travel distribution system choice for travel agencies and their customers”.
UK-based members of the group already include several TMCs such as ATPI Group, Eton Travel, Cresta World Travel and Matrix Travel Management, as well as consulting specialist Bouda.
Air Channel Choice says that Lufthansa’s GDS charges “would have negative worldwide implications for the competitive structure of the industry, travel agents and their customers”.
“In the process of seeking to extract more revenue from the managed-travel community Lufthansa Group would, of course, create substantial collateral damage and not just transfer costs, but create new costs within the industry by effectively insisting on its direct-connect strategy for its contracted customers.”
Lufthansa has said that it is “ready to co-operate” with distribution partners but there is “no going back” on the €16 fee.
Simone Buckley, CEO of the ITM, has also hit out at Lufthansa’s GDS fee. ITM has written to the airline group urging that the plan is scrapped and for talks to be held with corporate customers “to map out a mutually beneficial strategy for the future”.
“The announcement came as a shock to many of our members from across all industries, many of which are longstanding Lufthansa Group customers,” added Buckley.
“While they appreciate a company’s right to manage its own affairs and develop its own commercial strategy, the blatant disregard for their interests in relation to this matter has left many people angry which has been reflected in the feedback received in an ITM members’ poll.
“It is also beyond disappointing that the Lufthansa Group treats its loyal high-yield customers in the same way as one-time bookers in the leisure sector.”