Lufthansa extends Google link-up to Europe

Lufthansa extends Google link-up to Europe

Lufthansa is extending its partnership with Google and will roll out the ‘Book on Google’ facility through Europe following a trial in the US.

Direct booking with Lufthansa via Google is now available in five European countries, though a launch date for the UK “is not yet determined”.

Google unveiled Book on Google for hotels and flights last year and Lufthansa launched sales through the search giant in the US last November.

France, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Poland joined the US and Canada at the start of this week.

The facility allows consumers to search for flights and book without clicking through to the Lufthansa site.

The move forms part of a wider distribution strategy at the German carrier which is seeking to bypass global distribution systems (GDSs) which connect most travel agents and travel management companies (TMCs) to the airline.

The airline group imposed a €16 GDS booking fee last September.

Lufthansa chief commercial officer and vice-president for sales Jens Bischof said: “We began Book on Google in the US last November, offering customers a simple and seamless experience to book via desktop or mobile without switching websites.”

Speaking at German trade show ITB in Berlin, Bischof said: “We will extend this to France, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Poland and Canada, and other countries will follow.

“The UK launch date for Book on Google is not determined, but it is definitely on the list.”

Bischof said the proportion of tickets sold by Lufthansa.com in Germany “has risen from 32% to 40%” since last September when the carrier introduced the GDS booking fee “although it was not introduced for this reason”.

He said: “We conceive of ourselves as pioneers and we will go on with this consistently in 2016.”

Also speaking at ITB, Google vice-president for travel and shopping Oliver Heckmann insisted the Book on Google facility was not turning Google into an online travel agent (OTA).

Heckmann said: “The [travel] partner still gets the user’s address and details, they send out the confirmation and handle all other requests. They are the owner of the customer.”

“We are not becoming an OTA, not now or in the future.”

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