Emirates says ‘no’ to following Lufthansa down road of GDS fee

Emirates says ‘no’ to following Lufthansa down road of GDS fee

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A senior member of Emirates’ operations team has stated it is a “no” from the airline giant over the question of introducing a GDS fee.

This month Lufthansa’s vice-president for sales and service, Heike Birlenbach, told Travolution’s sister title Travel Weekly that it will not retreat on its plans to impose a €16 GDS booking fee from September.

“Lots of partners believe it is a negotiating tactic and all will be normal by September 1. It won’t. We aim for a difference in distribution,” she said.

The move has been described as a gamble by key players in the travel trade, including Advantage Travel Partnership corporate director Ken McLeod, who told Birlenbach at a conference in Frankfurt: “There will be an impact on bookings…you want to change distribution in the airline market.”

Speaking to Travolution at the launch of Emirates’ third daily flight between Birmingham and Dubai, the Gulf airline’s divisional senior vice president of commercial operations west, Hubert Frach, made the company’s position clear by emphatically replying “no” to the question of whether Emirates would introduce a GDS fee.

Frach, who was vice president for marketing at Lufthansa until September 2012, said: “We are still selling the majority of our business through the travel trade, and by extension, through GDS.

“However, we are also focusing on online sales through our website, emirates.com.”

Emirates wished to make clear that it has no “current plans to introduce a DCC on GDS bookings”.

“Agents will always have a role if they add value to the customer,” added Frach.

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