Lufthansa has signalled no retreat on the GDS fee it imposed nine months ago or its desire to drive bookings via direct channels.
The group introduced a €16 (£11.30) Distribution Cost Charge on GDS bookings of Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines flights last September.
At the time, Lufthansa said it aimed to “save money on the GDS”.
But chief executive Carsten Spohr said this week: “It’s not about cost savings. It’s about accessing [customer] data.”
Spohr said the data would enable the airline to adjust pricing.
However, he denied personalised offers would compromise fare comparisons or lead to higher prices, saying: “We can never be higher [priced] than we offer to the general market. What we offer an individual can only be better.”
Spohr said: “In an ideal world we would have [introduced the fee] six months later [than last September], but [GDS] contracts were at an end. There was criticism – in some cases, justified. [But] the overall impact is neutral. We saw less of a shift [in bookings to rivals] than we expected.
“Big travel agents and big corporates are directly hooked up to our system. We had a shift from the GDS not only to Lufthansa. com but direct with agents and corporates. We are adding more Direct Connect contracts by the week.”
Spohr insisted: “I expect other airlines to follow. We believe the industry is ready for change.” However, he acknowledged: “The majority of bookings are still with the GDS.”
Asked if Lufthansa had cut fares to maintain market share, he said: “I’m sure on very competitive routes we have been forced to bring down fares. But this happens. We adjust fares 10,000 times a day.”