Revisions to the Computer Reservations System (CRS) Code of Conduct for flight bookings could lead to system abuse which would mean higher fares for passengers, says the International Airline Passenger Association (IAPA).
The Code ” which is being reviewed by the European Parliament ” is itself sound, but the ”potentially fatal flaw” is that a change of interpretation in the wording could mean that Lufthansa, Air France and Iberia ” which between them own 46% of the leading CRS in Europe, Amadeus ” are no longer governed by it.
Currently, the Code applies to a carrier which owns or controls the CRS, and the key change is that it would now govern a carrier only if it does in fact own and control. As these three airlines own less than 50%, they would not be classified as owners, and therefore be free to act outside the Code.
”It”s outrageous, because owning that much still gives you massive influence,” an IAPA spokesman told ABTN. ”It”s being rather slyly changed so they are no longer defined as parent carriers ” and therefore the rules don”t apply to them.”
The airlines have been lobbying quite hard for this he said, and warned that the outcome could be serious.
”For example, the airlines could fix it so that their own flights get preferential displays on travel agents” screens ” and once you”re on that first screen you have huge advantage, because very rarely do people go down to the second or third screen.
”So potentially they could keep competitors out of their market, and potentially keep their fares higher. We”d basically be relying on the airlines” goodwill if it goes through as currently proposed."
Such a situation has occurred before, in both Europe and the US ” ”the Code of Conduct was set up in 1989 precisely for that reason ” so we”re potentially winding the clock back 20 years to before that,” said the spokesman.
The Code review will go before the Parliament in the next two months, probably at the end of April or May, and IAPA is calling on MEPs to ensure its intentions are ”honoured in practice and not just on paper.”