The head of Travelport slammed Lufthansa’s plans to impose a €16 GDS booking charge yesterday, insisting: “I’m at a loss to understand what they’re about.”
Lufthansa aims to introduce a €16 Distribution Cost Charge (DCC) on September 1, and Travelport president and chief executive Gordon Wilson accused the airline of “seeking to surcharge the entire indirect channel”.
Wilson said: “When Lufthansa chief commercial officer Jens Bischoff announced this [charge] he said GDSs have old technology and are not able to sell in the way Lufthansa wants. Well we can.
“There is nothing available on Lufthansa direct you cannot sell with Travelport Rich Content and Branding.”
He added: “When I listen to what Lufthansa is saying, they basically admit their portal is not fit for purpose.
“So when Lufthansa introduces its surcharge, which it seems dogged about, either consumers and corporates will be willing to pay it or they will ask agents and travel management companies to book with another airline.”
Wilson told Travolution’s sister title Travel Weekly: “Lufthansa has a right to make a commercial decision. But it is in a minority of one.”
He warned: “I fear it will take a quarter or two [of the financial year] before sense will prevail. It will really depend how much Lufthansa is prepared to lose.”
But he said: “Lufthansa is not the airline it used to be. It has big competition on long haul from the Gulf carriers and on short-haul from the low cost carriers.
“Only 4% of the Lufthansa bookings we do originate in Germany. Consumers can vote with their feet.”
Wilson argued: “We did $4 billion in ticket sales through the Lufthansa Group last year. The average price per ticket was three to four times higher than Lufthansa gets across its own network, and for that it paid less than 2% of the cost of a ticket.”
Travelport reported a “strong” half year after second-quarter results released on August 4 showed revenue rising just 1% in the three months to June.
Wilson said more than 110 airlines have signed up to Travelport’s Rich Branding and Content, with 80 carriers including Lufthansa retailing through the platform.