A meeting between the business travel sector and Lufthansa will take place on Tuesday amid signs of a backlash from corporate buyers over the airline’s planned GDS fees.

The GTMC is to meet Lufthansa today to discuss its proposed €16 GDS fee, which the airline wants to introduce from September.

At the GTMC’s annual conference in Brussels, Simone Buckley, chief executive of the Institute of Travel & Meetings, revealed that a straw poll of members had found 55 per cent would consider selling away from Lufthansa and 22 per cent said they would definitely boycott the airline.

“It’s clearly not something we want; over 75 per cent are against it,” she said.

GTMC chief executive Paul Wait said Lufthansa was prepared to levy the fee “knowing full well that the cost will be passed onto the customer”. He added: “I think it is so important to resist this.”

However, he said the GTMC had to be wary of competition laws and not be seen to coordinate a boycott. Buckley added that the ITM did not yet have a formal view. Many in the industry believe the airline is using the threat just as a negotiating position to reduce its selling costs with GDS providers. In its communication to the trade, the airline does indicate that there may be flexibility over the amount of fee actually levied.

Buckley added: “Until we understand whether this is just a negotiating tactic, we don’t have a position. If this is just a negotiating tactic, which we suspect and potentially hope it might be, that’s even worse, in a way.”

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