More than 100 UK travel management companies (TMCs) and agencies have signed up to Lufthansa’s web portal to avoid paying a €16 fee for GDS bookings from September, says the carrier.
Lufthansa’s director for the UK and Ireland, Christian Schindler, said emotions had cooled since the airline announced the Distribution Cost Charge on GDS bookings in early June. Companies are now discussing ways to avoid the fee, he said.
Schindler told Travolution’s sister title Travel Weekly: “Emotions are fading. There are in-depth discussions with all partners. We’re open to finding solutions. We don’t have a fixed set of answers.
“If you want to avoid the fee, we have the portal. There is an option of direct connections. We’re open to API [application programming interface] connectivity. Agents are already doing this for certain airlines and we’re open to working in the same way. There is a lot of detailed discussion now. We are also in discussions with the GDSs on a worldwide level.”
Yet Schindler conceded agents’ options would remain limited when the charge comes in on September 1, saying: “We will have the B-to-C portal and the B-to-B portal. The other things will not be in place on September 1. It’s difficult to say how soon other options [will be available].”
He said charging a GDS fee was “not completely new or out of the blue” and insisted: “We are confident we’re fully compliant with legal requirements. This might be the first move by a classic airline, but it is not the first move. The landscape in the US and Canada has already changed.
“We are talking with the GDSs, but the contracts are in place and the charge will come in from September. We are concentrating on having the portal ready by September 1. The next step will be connecting it to TMCs. I don’t see that happening by September 1, but a lot of TMCs have already signed up.” In the UK, he said: “It’s a three-digit number. There is high interest in the UK.”