BA plans booking fee hike on GDSs

Booking fees for British Airways flights on the four global distribution systems could quadruple.

The carrier is thrashing out deals with the GDSs, and sources close to the negotiations have told Travolution sister title, Travel Weekly, that agents are facing a £2 per sector booking fee or the removal of the bottom six fare classes from systems.

BA is keen to reduce its annual GDS bill and has not ruled out ditching one of Galileo, Worldspan, Sabre or Amadeus.

The introduction of charges in the existing three-year deals, which all expire at the end of next month, were hugely unpopular among agents when introduced in 2004.

Only Sabre did not introduce booking fees, while Galileo started charging 50p per sector, Worldspan 45p and Amadeus 95p per sector on BA’s bottom four fare classes.

The Sabre contract is the first up for renewal and could give an indication of what to expect from the other three. Sabre demands full content from airline suppliers, meaning it could be forced to introduce a booking fee.

Vice-president Reet Wiseman said: “We have full content agreements with 300 airlines and want that to continue.”

Business travel agents, horrified at the prospect of BA pulling the lowest fares out of the system, are bracing themselves for a massive rise in fees.

Advantage Focus Partnership technology manager Jon Smiles said: “The renegotiation will cause the biggest upheaval of 2007.”

Guild of Travel Management Companies chairman Paul Allan fears other airlines could follow BA’s lead.

“It’s time the parties concerned realise the damage they could be causing to this industry,” he told members at the Guild’s Annual General Meeting this week.

BA, Worldspan, Galileoand Amadeus all refused to comment.

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