The European Technology and Travel Services Association (ETTSA) has condemned British Airways’ and Iberia’s decision to impose fees on bookings through global distribution systems (GDSs).
ETTSA called on regulators “to enforce EU law” in response to BA and Iberia’s announcement of an £8 or €9.50 charge “per fare component” on GDS bookings from November 1.
The association, which includes GDSs and leading online travel agents (OTAs), also demanded an investigation into whether airline consolidation in Europe has benefited consumers.
Writing for this morning’s Travel Weekly Business:am, ETTSA secretary general Christoph Klenner argues: “The mechanism of a charge goes against the principles of transparency and neutrality in airline distribution established by the EU.”
He suggests BA and Iberia aim “to drive consumers away from platforms where they are able to compare travel options in a neutral environment and on to airline-controlled platforms” where he argues the content is “biased”.
And he urges Europe’s authorities to protect consumers “before it is too late”.
Klenner also demands “a probing investigation” into whether the mergers, takeovers and alliances allowed by regulators to create BA and Iberia owner IAG, the Lufthansa Group and Air France-KLM have delivered “the promised benefits for consumers”.
The Lufthansa Group has levied a €16 (£11.20) charge on GDS bookings since September 2015.
The UK’s Guild of Travel Management Companies (GTMC) hit out at the BA and Iberia charge this week saying travellers would not “willingly accept it”, and American Express Global Business Travel warned the GDS fee would increase costs and “fragment content”.
GTMC chief executive Paul Wait demanded “robust evidence from BA” to prove its claim that GDS distribution is more expensive than through the airline’s direct channels.
Advantage Travel Partnerships head of Focus (corporate travel) operations Steve Murray said: “There is a lot of kickback on the charge. It will cause all sorts of problems. It’s not just about cost.”
Ken McLeod, Advantage director of industry affairs, added: “I don’t think anybody knows where this will end – not BA, not the GDSs, not the TMCs, not customers.”
BA and Iberia announced the GDS charge last Friday and BA was immediately engulfed in an IT meltdown which left many agency and travel management company (TMC) staff to work all weekend rebooking the airline’s passengers.
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