Lufthansa’s imposition of a surcharge on GDS bookings has been dismissed as “unsophisticated” and “anti-customer” by the former British Airways head of sales who scrapped travel agents’ commission a decade ago.
Ian Heywood, now global head of product and marketing for GDS company Travelport, hit out at Lufthansa’s Distribution Cost Charge (DCC) at the CAPA World Aviation Summit in Helsinki.
Asked to comment on the €16 charge imposed since the start of September, Heywood said: “It makes me disappointed. It is anti-customer, anti-consumer.
“It’s unsophisticated, a blunt instrument. I’m not sure what problem Lufthansa is trying to tackle.”
Referring to Travelport, he said: “We generated $3.9 billion in ticket sales for Lufthansa in 2014. The average fare was three times the average through the airline’s other channels, and 72% of segments were outside Lufthansa’s home markets.
“Now Lufthansa is charging to use that distribution channel, which just seems crazy.”
Heywood added: “The airline is trying to drive agents to its agency portal even though Lufthansa themselves admit it’s not fit for purpose.”
Lufthansa imposed the €16 charge on all GDS bookings with group carriers from September 1. Heywood said: “I don’t believe it will be successful. At the end of the day, the consumer is paying €16 more.”
He dismissed a claim that GDS technology prevents airlines displaying fares to travel agents as the carriers would like, saying: “The industry is being held back not by the technology of the GDSs, but by the technology of the airlines.”
Heywood was head of consumer and agency sales at British Airways in 2005 when the carrier cut travel agents’ commission to zero.