Lufthansa has urged agents “not to wait” for a technology solution to fragmenting fare distribution.
The airline group has sought to drive third-party bookings via new distribution capability (NDC) direct connections since imposing a surcharge of £11.30 on GDS bookings in September 2015.
Andreas Koester, Lufthansa senior sales director for the UK and Ireland, said distribution is becoming “diversified” and insisted: “This system has to be aggregated at the agency [rather than the GDS].
“Our message is ‘Don’t wait’. Talk to us. It is a diversified distribution landscape.”
Koester insisted customers, agencies and airlines would benefit from the change in distribution technology, saying: “It will be for the sake of the customer because we will be able to provide individualised, customised offers.
“It will be for the sake of the agencies because it will close the gap with our dotcoms, and it will be for the sake of the airlines because it’s an efficient way to distribute.”
He told a Travel Weekly Business Breakfast on the future of airline distribution: “The GDSs will always be there. They provide great content, but there is room for other tech providers and aggregation has to take place at the agency level.”
Koester added: “This is about making sure we get a new type of content to our customers who are used to consume Netflix content, Amazon content, to buy at eBay. The distribution landscape we had was a bottleneck to innovation.”
He said: “We are very happy with our indirect sales. The agency channel will always be a key channel for us.
“Where we had an issue is that indirect distribution is dominated by three [GDS] providers and we felt the level of innovation and of costs were unbearable. That is why we introduced the [GDS] charge.
“We have a substantial number of agencies connected [direct]. We will continue to remain in dialogue with agencies.
“We are in dialogue with the GDSs and with various tech providers to see what options there are to enhance the distribution landscape.”
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