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GDS will continue to absorb Lufthansa/SWISS surcharge
Amadeus is to extend its reimbursement programme for agents in Germany, Austria and Switzerland faced with surcharges imposed by Lufthansa and SWISS.
The German carrier charges €4.90 per sector and SWISS €5 on bookings on fares by Amadeus agents in the three countries.
Amadeus has so far not signed up to the carriers' preferred fares scheme which would exempt its agents from such charges.
Other major GDSs, Sabre, Galileo and Worldspan have signed up.
Amadeus originally said it would absorb the surcharges until the end of this year.
But it has now announced it will extend this reimbursement scheme until January 31, 2009 in Germany and Austria and to March 31, 12009 in Switzerland.
In a statement announcing the extension, Amadeus said: "We continue to exert every effort to achieve a long-term solution with Lufthansa and we are confident that one can be found."
The GDS declined to comment further.
The row between Amadeus and Lufthansa, which owns an 11.5% stake in the IT company, dates back to January when the airline and its sister carrier SWISS announced plans to impose surcharges on certain types of tickets when booked through a GDS.Amadeus, the dominant GDS in Germany, has failed to reach agreement with the airlines despite exhaustive talks.Lufthansa/SWISS began levying the new charges on July 1 in Germany and Austria and from October 1 in Switzerland.Fares went up by €15 one way or €30 return on all tickets bought in the three countries.But the carriers have continued to make available the previous lower fares.They are called "preferred fares" and are the subject to a surcharge if booked through a GDS.Lufthansa charges agencies €4.90 plus VAT per coupon and SWISS charges CHF8 (€5) per booking.It is this surcharge that Amadeus is opposing.The row has gone to court in Germany where a judge in an interim agreement found for the airline although Amadeus has said it will appeal.In Switzerland it is due to go before a panel which will decide whether it is fair competition or not. No date has been fixed for this hearing.
The preferred fares scheme has been widely opposed by agents in the three countries.
One Swiss agent, Jean-Claude Fert, managing director of Geneva-based Fert Voyages, told ABTN that it faced an extra bill of €400,000 a year if Amadeus stopped absorbing the charge and also failed to reach any deal with Lufthansa SWISS.
It was also attacked this week by the Business Travel Coalition (BTC).
It called the surcharge an "ominous development for corporate travel managers."
A statement added: "Lufthansa's initiative establishes a permanent indirect price increase by effectively shifting Lufthansa's fully burdened distribution costs onto the backs of its very best customers.
"BTC expressed outrage at Lufthansa's scheme, which shows a callous disregard for consumer welfare, and called on corporate travel managers to make their concerns known to the airline."
Klaus Laepple, president of DRV, the Gertman travel agents' association, said: "This gives us more time to inform our customers and to adjust ourselves to this new scenario.
"Therefore the travel agents now have to look for solutions which make fair competition possible for all those involved."
Klaus Laepple, president of DRV, the German travel agents' association, said: "This (extension) gives us more time to inform our custoerms and to adjust ourselves to this new scenario.
"Therefore the travel agents now have to look for solutions which make a fair competition possible for all those involved."
www.amadeus.com www.lufthansa.com www.fert.com http://businesstravelcoalition.com www.drv.de