Travel agents are set to get caught in the middle of a spat between Lufthansa Group and the the Global Distribution Systems that distribute its airfares to retailers after the German airline said it is introducing a €16 surcharge on all GDS bookings from September 1.

All the major GDS – Amadeus, Travelport and Sabre – have condemned the move which is designed to drive direct bookings to all airlines in the Lufthansa Group – Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Swiss – and away from third-party bookers.

It’s the second time Lufthansa added a GDS booking surcharge.

Lufthansa and Aamdeus were involved in a fractious dispute in 2008/09 when the airline charged a €4.90 fee for all bookings made through Amadeus, which in turn absorbed the impost.

That dispute spluttered to a conclusion, the terms of which were never made public.

On this occasion, however, the surcharge is much bigger and applies to all the GDS, which make their money by charging airlines a sector fee on every fare sold through travel agencies.

This news has only just broken and all the GDS are considering their commercial response, as are travel agents, which will either add the fee as a booking charge or absorb it to remain price-competitive.

Of course the GDS could also step in and pay the fee on their behalf but it’s so high at €16 that is in no way a valid option.


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