Lufthansa has announced a series of ‘direct connect’ deals to by-pass global distribution systems (GDSs) in Germany and a deal with Google Flights to by-pass travel agents in the US.
The agreements with German tour operator Bucher Reisen and German air ticket consolidator AERTiCKET have gone live, with the pair now connected to the Lufthansa Group reservations system.
The carrier said travel agency chain Lufthansa City Center, which is not part of the Lufthansa group despite its name, has also agreed to develop a direct connection.
The three companies will avoid the €16 Distribution Cost Charge (DCC) Lufthansa imposed on all GDS bookings at the start of September.
At the same time, Lufthansa announced a deal with Google Flights to offer US consumers a ‘Book on Google’ function, primarily aimed at mobile bookings.
The Lufthansa Group – which comprises Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines – unveiled the agreements on Wednesday, saying deals with “additional partners are in the works”.
Lufthansa chief commercial officer Jens Bischof said: “We are delighted to have achieved the first direct connects with important sales partners.
“The partnership with Google will facilitate online bookings particularly on mobile devices.
“Lufthansa is the first legacy carrier worldwide to which Goole Flights offers this direct booking function.”
Bischof added: “This is an important step in realising Lufthansa’s new sales and distribution strategy, which strives to develop new and alternative distribution channels.”
Lufthansa triggered widespread anger and concern among agencies when it introduced the GDS charge on September 1.
Advantage Focus Partnership members in the UK have recorded a 25% drop in Lufthansa bookings in the two months since.
Ken McLeod, Advantage corporate director, confirmed the fall in bookings, telling Travel Weekly: “That is high-yield, long-haul business. It’s quite a lot of business to lose.”
Gordon Wilson, president and chief executive of GDS parent Travelport, confirmed on Monday: “We’ve seen a big drop in Lufthansa bookings, [although] only 4% of business we do with the airline is in Germany.”