The travel industry has reacted angrily against the decision by German airline Lufthansa to impose a €4.90 (£3.70) per-way surcharge when fares are booked through global distribution systems (GDS).
The change will affect flight bookings in Germany and Austria from July 1st, and possibly in Switzerland and Liechtenstein from October 1st, with travel agents now obliged to pay higher fares in the GDS, while "preferred rates" will still be available for direct purchase on the Lufthansa website, call centre and ticket counter, or through its dedicated agent website.
Germany’s biggest GDS provider Amadeus claimed that it was inconsistent for the airline to pass the whole cost of ticket sales and distribution onto travel agents, with the proposed sum of €4.90 per coupon exceeding the average booking fee charged by Amadeus for Lufthansa flights out of Germany.
Amadeus said in a statement: "We were informed on January 17th of this decision, which was made unilaterally by Lufthansa without any prior consultation with Amadeus. We believe that the disruption caused by this decision is likely to harm Lufthansa’s sales and increase the cost of travel for the end consumer. We will be discussing this matter with Lufthansa with the hope that a solution can be found that is acceptable to all involved."
Thierry Antinori, Lufthansa executive vice president of marketing and sales, said that the change would "optimise our efficiency and lower our distribution costs," while removing the discrepancy between online and offline rates.