The Business Travel Coalition has added its opposition to plans by British Airways to impose an £8 GDS booking fee from November 1.
The US group’s chairman has written to the head of distribution at BA owner International Airlines Group over the imposition of the surcharge.
BTC chairman Kevin Mitchell criticised the lack of consultation with the trade over the switch which will also apply to IAG-owned Iberia.
Only bookings direct or via an NDC direct connection to the airlines or through a booking portal not yet available will avoid the fee. NDC is a direct distribution standard developed by Iata.
Referring to a previous letter, Mitchell told IAG group manager distribution Jerry Dunn: “You declared how valued TAs [travel agents] are by IAG. If you truly valued your TA partners, though, you would not have sprung this surcharge scheme on them, but rather, entered into consultations with them.
“Your reference to new distribution options that are lower cost than traditional systems, aka global distribution systems (GDS), is made without any facts whatsoever to support that claim – facts recently requested by the Guild of Travel Management Companies.
“Can you provide the industry with financial analysis, for example, of the total cost of your modern distribution options as well as your call centres and airport ticket offices, including your required sales, technology and advertising costs, compared with the GDS-enabled TA channel costs?”
Mitchell added: “You assert that these ‘free’ channels are available for TAs to use.
“However, in an effort to avoid the surcharge, those options would fragment today’s highly efficient reservations process where air, hotel, rail, car and other services are in a single booking.
“TA information-technology costs would increase including for back office systems and the laborious use of passive bookings in the GDS to complete a record.
“If you truly valued your TA partners, you would not foist new inefficiencies and costs on them. In order to prevent the loss of customers to your websites, TAs would have to use less efficient processes or pay the surcharge – a false choice and made possible only because of your dominant market position.
“You take credit for transparency and providing TAs with a five-month advance notice the implementation of the surcharge.
“Giving notice is no substitute for sincere collaboration. If IAG is interested in transparency, how does it justify a £8 per segment surcharge when the cost via a GDS averages £2 and the cost via Google is approximately £16?”
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