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16 Sep 2015

BY Rob Gill

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TRFBLI

Complaints to EC put pressure on Lufthansa

Lufthansa is facing growing pressure over its new €16 GDS fee after a second formal complaint was made to the European Commission

Lufthansa jets

Large numbers of TMCs insisted they would not be registering to use Lufthansa’s website.

 

The European Technology & Travel Services Association (Ettsa) joined Ectaa (European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Association) in lodging official complaints to the EC against Lufthansa’s GDS charge.

 

The airline has insisted that it is “complying with all regulations and legislation”, but Ectaa confirmed to TTG that it would be meeting with EC officials in Brussels later this month to discuss its complaint against Lufthansa, launched in July.

 

Business travel agencies also seem to be shunning Lufthansa’s attempts to encourage them to book through their own websites and so avoid paying the €16 fee.

 

A survey of the 37 members of the Guild of Travel Management Companies (GTMC) found that the majority (67%) would not be registering to use Lufthansa’s website.

 

Just 6% of GTMC members said they would be prepared to use Lufthansa’s direct channels for bookings – and only if they were requested to do so by their clients.

 

GTMC chief executive Paul Wait added: “The good news for airlines who recognise and support TMCs is that Lufthansa is handing corporate travel bookings to them.”

 

Ettsa, which is the trade association for GDSs and online travel agencies, alleges that Lufthansa and its three sister carriers (Austrian, Swiss and Brussels Airlines) are “discriminating against those customers who use independent travel agents” with the €16 charge.

 

Christoph Klenner, Ettsa’s secretary general, said: “In addition to taking travel agencies hostage and forcing them to spend unnecessary resources on the switch to Lufthansa’s platform, Lufthansa’s move will severely hurt comparison shopping and competition.”

 

Ectaa’s legal advisor Ewa Grabiak told TTG that the association had also discussed whether Lufthansa had breached EU “anti-trust” competition rules. She added: “We will continue to look at it.”

 

Lufthansa continues to stick to its guns. A spokesperson told TTG: “We firmly believe that our action is compliant with all relevant regulation and legislation.”

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