American Express Global Business Travel became the first major travel management company (TMC) to sign a deal to bypass Air France-KLM’s charges on GDS bookings this week.
Air France-KLM imposed a charge of €11 per one-way fare on GDS bookings or €22 return on April 1.
American Express GBT announced it had reached an agreement with the airline group to bypass the surcharge “through participating global distribution systems (GDSs)” while maintaining access to content.
Air France-KLM signed new distribution deals with GDSs Travelport and Amadeus at the end of March allowing TMCs and travel agents with the necessary agreements with the airlines “to access a private channel” for content without the distribution charge.
The GDS fee brought Air France-KLM into line with European network rivals Lufthansa, which has levied a €16 fee on GDS bookings since September 2015, and IAG-owned British Airways and Iberia which imposed a €9.50 fee per fare component from last November.
In a statement, American Express GBT said: “Recognising the importance of GBT and its customers to its business, Air France-KLM has agreed to exempt GBT from the surcharge and to continue providing consolidated and transparent content access.
“The agreement is subject to the GDSs entering private channel arrangements with Air France-KLM.”
American Express GBT executive vice-president for global supplier relations Michael Qualantone said: “Our customers want simple, aggregated and transparent access to air content.
“We are advocating collaboration among airline and distribution partners to deliver the most comprehensive access to air content, the best pricing and shopping environment, within the robust servicing provided by the GDSs.”
Air France-KLM executive vice-president for commercial strategy Pieter Bootsma said: “We fully recognise the value the business travel segment brings to our business.”
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