British Airways Unrolls New GDS Fee, Invoking Ire

by Barbara Peterson
British Airways Unrolls New GDS Fee, Invoking Ire

IAG airline group, parent company of both British Airways and Iberia, will introduce a fee of roughly $10 per booking on all sales through GDSs. Photo: Joao Carlos Medau


Major travel industry organizations expressed alarm over a new fee on GDS bookings, this one from the IAG airline group, parent company of British Airways and Iberia.

The fee of roughly $10 per booking on all sales through GDSs is set to take effect Nov. 1. While it’s less than the $18 surcharge imposed more than a year ago by Lufthansa and its partner airlines on such bookings, the fact that it’s coming from a big player like IAG is stoking fears that more large airlines soon will follow suit. 

In a letter announcing the change to British travel agents, IAG acknowledged that the fee “represents significant change for your business.” But it said the fee is intended to cover the added expense of selling services through GDSs. IAG also referred to the development of IATA’s New Distribution Capability, or NDC, which is laying the foundation for airlines to sell ancillary services to agents. As part of this evolution, IAG said it will soon be rolling out a new booking portal for travel agencies and other sellers.

That wasn’t enough to sway agency groups and others concerned about the impact on business if they’re forced to pass along an added charge to their clients.

“While the creation of a ‘trade portal’ is a positive sign, the complications these changes will present to our member companies’ business operations… and their presumed intent to make it difficult for agents to comparison shop on behalf of clients – only disservices the end traveler,” ASTA said in a statement. ASTA said it will “continue to monitor these developments and advocate for our members.”

GDS owners weighed in too, and predictably panned the move. “We do not think that a surcharge is in the best interest of travelers,” Amadeus said in a statement, adding that it “strongly believes that indirect distribution remains the most cost-efficient solution for all parties on a global scale.”

Travelport said it “regrets” that BA and Iberia “are seeking to penalize consumers who enjoy the benefits of choice, efficiency and value by booking through the travel agency medium.” Travelport also said consumers will be negatively affected by what it described as “less efficient working practices” that will result from the change.

American Express Global Business Travel reacted by saying that “we do not support any initiative that increases costs to our customers as a result of content fragmentation or inefficient technology.”

  3
  2
Tip of the Day
Daily Top List

Top 5 Airlines for Business Class

1. Singapore Airlines

2. Qatar Airways

3. Etihad Airways

4. Cathay Pacific

5. Japan Airlines (JAL)

Source: The Luxury Travel Expert

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Whirlwind Year at Travel Impressions Ends on High Note
Whirlwind Year at Travel Impressions Ends on High Note

During a tumultuous first 16 months at the helm, new president Scott Wiseman has overseen an internal restructuring and expansion of new product.

Six Success Tips for Travel Agents from Cruise Line Executives
Six Success Tips for Travel Agents from Cruise Line Executives

Cruise leaders talk about how to help their travel agent partners succeed by taking advantage of cruise industry trends.

Here's What Travel Agents Are Thankful for in 2017
Here's What Travel Agents Are Thankful for in 2017

A week ahead of Thanksgiving, agents talk loyal clients, commission upturn, supplier support, and a flexible schedule.

Travel Agents Weigh in on New Cuba Rules
Travel Agents Weigh in on New Cuba Rules

Travel agents who specialize in Cuba spoke to TMR about what last week's news really means for the industry.

Is Anxiety Leading to More Travel Insurance Sales?
Is Anxiety Leading to More Travel Insurance Sales?

Hurricanes, political unrest, and terrorist attacks may be behind a heightened attention on certain types of travel insurance.

Travel Industry Is Optimistic About Adapting to New Cuba Restrictions
Travel Industry Is Optimistic About Adapting to New Cuba Restrictions

Long-time travel experts say that while some popular lodging choices and tourist venues are impacted, travel to Cuba remains open.

News Briefs
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: Holland America Line