Is the sky beyond the limit for this brinkmanship?
Having been to my first proper football match at the weekend, in the midst of the Lufthansa GDS fee furore, I bring you my first (and probably last), leader column that draws reference to the beautiful game.
I enjoyed learning several Toffees chants ahead of the Spurs-Everton match so I could sing along, including a new addition – “Money Can’t Buy You Stones” – aimed at Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho who has had several attempts to buy Everton’s star-performer refused.
The bull-headed manager’s normally solid strategy is in disarray at the moment, with a weak defence, more failed purchase attempts, and Mourinho himself falling out with people left, right and centre – giving Chelsea a worse start to the season than almost any other reigning Premier League champion in history.
In the travel industry, there’s one strategy that is similarly under the microscope this week, with Lufthansa Group’s bold move to charge a €16 fee to book on a GDS coming into effect on Tuesday.
While we can appreciate the airline’s need to improve profitability, it seems unfair play from Lufthansa, forcing TMCs to either switch to less efficient, less professional ways of booking the airline or pay higher fares.
As we describe in our analysis this week, it is a risky game-plan for the airline. Advantage’s business travel arm has already gone on the offensive, announcing that it has entered an official period of “non-cooperation” with the airline, while the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association reveals that many of its members are already switch-selling.
There has been concern that other airlines will follow Lufthansa’s lead, as when BA first stopped paying agents commission more than a decade ago, and yet several airlines have insisted it is not a strategy they would mimic. With trade bodies forming a tight defence, there is a good chance TMCs could force Lufthansa into reducing the fee.
And just as Mourinho is finding that having money doesn’t necessarily score goals, so Lufthansa may have to concede this is one power struggle it cannot win.