Phocuswright: More carriers will copy Lufthansa’s ‘brave’ GDS fee, says Ryanair’s Jacobs

Phocuswright: More carriers will copy Lufthansa’s ‘brave’ GDS fee, says Ryanair’s Jacobs

More legacy airlines will follow the lead of Lufthansa and impose a fee on GDS bookings, Ryanair has predicted.

Speaking at Phocuswright Europe, Kenny Jacobs, the budget carrier’s chief marketing officer, said he understood why the German airline imposed the controversial €16 per booking fee although he described the move as “brave”.

He said as well as taking a stance on indirect bookings the airline was also at the same time battling its pilots and cabin crew and rivals like Ryanair in short-haul routes and Gulf carriers in long-haul.

“To take on another battle and open up another front is quite brave but they have got the benefit of cheaper fuel so it’s probably the right time to do it. I get why they are doing it and I do not think they will be the last of the legacy carriers to try it,” Jacobs said.

The era of cheap fuel means “a lot of shit airlines are looking good” but it will come to an end, said Jacobs, and once that happens he predicted there will be further consolidation in the sector.

“Fuel will go back up above $80 in the next three years,” he said, “and we will see more consolidation.” Jacobs said this will see the share of low-cost airlines rise from over 30% today to more like 70% to 80%.

Jacobs set out Ryanair’s intention to drive further direct bookings through improving its website and app to merchandise more ancillaries and he said the airline would talk to corporates to agree direct deals but would not do business with travel agents.

“People are more savvy. That’s reduced the service travel agents can provide. If you are going to a complicated place and need to package it up that’s a different thing. We do not want a middle man in the mix that wants to take a cut. That’s why we will deal with corporates ourselves.”

Asked about the ongoing legal dispute with Google and European OTA eDreams over what Ryanair sees as the agent’s attempts to pass itself off as Ryanair in search results, Jacobs said: “For me it’s simple. If you go on Google and put in Ryanair you are looking for Ryanair.

“Google will give you the usual nonsense that it’s the algorithm – it’s bullshit. If people come to Google and want Ryanair, give them Ryanair.”

Jacobs said most customers who end up on eDreams having searched for Ryanair believe they are on the airline’s site but end up paying additional booking fees. “It’s just not good,” he said, adding that courts and regulators in countries like Germany and the UK are starting to crack down on online “imposters”.

“If I was Google I would sort my shit out before the courts do. There are plenty of judges in Europe who would love to have a go at Google. This is one way of doing it.”

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