British Airways and Spanish sister carrier Iberia have hit an impasse over negotiating a new GDS distribution deal with Travelport
BA has written to agents outlining the current situation, suggesting costs as the sticking point while Travelport stressed that it was focused on reaching an agreement with both International Airlines Group carriers.
The BA and Iberia full content GDS agreements with Travelport expire on December 10 and 31 respectively.
The Scottish Passenger Agents Association voiced its concern and issued a plea to ensure any new deal does not drive up the costs for agents booking BA.
Association past president Kevin Thom said: “The SPAA would implore that both parties during their negotiations are cognizant of the current economic climate, and ensure that per sector charges for booking BA is not driven up, and that those agents who have previously opted into this surcharge scheme are still guaranteed access to full content of the airlines inventory and fares.”
He added: “Earlier this year the SPAA were voicing their concerns over the renegotiation of BA’s negotiations with Amadeus which very much went to the wire before being concluded. This time the GDS in question is Travelport but the potential outcome and ramifications remain the same and give us great cause for concern.”
BA head of UK and Ireland sales and tactical marketing Richard Tams said: “We are currently in negotiations with Travelport but no agreement has yet been reached.
“Our travel agency partners are a valued part of our distribution strategy and we wish to continue distributing through the GDS. However, any GDS agreement needs to be sustainable for BA and Iberia in a very challenging competitive environment.
“We are still hopeful of reaching agreement before the expiry of our full content deals. If an agreement cannot be reached, BA and Iberia’s intention is to continue distributing through Travelport until a new deal can be reached, however we may need to take steps to mitigate any increased costs.”
Travelport confirmed that it was in “active dialogue” with BA to renew its global, full content agreement “and both parties are committed to reaching a mutually beneficial conclusion to these discussions”.
A spokeswoman said: “Although no agreement has yet been reached, Travelport-connected agents worldwide can still book BA’s full, published content.
“Our travel agency customers should also rest assured that we will be agile and responsive with the intention of ensuring our customers are not placed at a commercial disadvantage.
“We remain focused on concluding these agreements in order to provide our travel agency customers worldwide with the broadest possible travel content.
“We also remain committed to providing our airline partners, including BA, with the means to distribute all of their content, including their ancillary content, in a highly cost efficient and flexible way that meets their business needs.”