Travelport to launch fee-free GDS bookings in autumn

Travelport to launch fee-free GDS bookings in autumn

Travelport is poised to enable agents and travel management companies (TMCs) to book air fares via desktop without the GDS surcharges Europe’s major network carriers currently levy.

Gordon Wilson, Travelport president and chief executive, said: “We are on course to deliver the first wave of IATA NDC API-sourced content.”

He confirmed the technology would be launched this autumn.

IAG-owned British Airways and Iberia, the Lufthansa Group and Air France-KLM have imposed fees on traditional GDS bookings – Lufthansa leading the way in September 2015 with a €16 fee, IAG following last November and Air France-KLM this April.

The carriers have also moved towards offering many fares only via direct-connect APIs – application programme interfaces – or online portals, in line with Iata’s new distribution capability (NDC).

The fees and move away from full airline content through GDSs remain a source of tension in the industry and a problem for TMCs, agents and OTAs.

Wilson told Travel Weekly: “We aim to have the first iteration of API-sourced content out in the second half of the year which will enable customers on an API or Travelport Smartpoint [technology], to distribute on a desktop basis without the GDS surcharge.”

He said: “Our intention is to make it available wherever airlines want it to be available.”

However, Wilson does not believe this will signal the end of the current impasse between Europe’s biggest carriers and the three main GDSs.

He said: “It will take some time to shake out as there some very entrenched positions particularly among the airlines.”

Speaking as he reported Travelport half-year results on Thursday, Wilson said: “The situation [over NDC] will get resolved because the technology is there.

“The solutions are getting better, but this whole thing is taking much longer to work through than anyone thought. There was some naivety, I think. It is still going to take some time to resolve all the issues.”

Wilson added: “I find it interesting that Lufthansa moved first on this and I can’t discern any major shift in the German [air] market, which is down 1%.”

He confirmed: “We did a deal with Air France-KLM when one of our competitors has not, and we provide a channel with [IAG-owned] British Airways. We are in good dialogue with them.

“There are issues to be resolved, which tend not to be technology issues, but we are working on them.”

Wilson reported Travelport’s revenue in Europe up 22% in the six months to June and transaction value up 12%.

He said: “In our view, we’re doing a better job of selling airlines and of up-selling.”

Travelport also reported a 12% increase to $46.7 billion in total transaction value in the six months, up from $41.6 billion last year.

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