Travel management companies in the UK have little appetite to use the new portal established by Lufthansa through which they could make bookings without attracting the new €16 distribution cost charge (DCC) levied by the airline on bookings made through the GDS, according to new research.
The UK's GTMC surveyed its members, which represent the vast majority of business travel bookings made in the UK, on whether they had signed up to the new portal.
The results are shown in this week's chart of the week below.
Paul Wait, chief executive of the GTMC, said: "Lufthansa has publicly claimed that TMCs have been signing up to use their website directly, however the behaviour of GTMC members show that simply isn't the case. In fact, our member booking activity is testament that the GDS levy isn't working.
"The good news for airlines who recognise and support TMCs is that Lufthansa is handing corporate travel bookings to them. The changes from Lufthansa may have been rooted in trying to solve cost challenges for the airline, however they haven't addressed what corporate customers and business passengers want."
The results come in the same week that the European Technology & Travel Services Association (ETTSA), the industry body representing global distribution systems (GDSs), announced it had submitted a complaint to the European Commission about Lufthansa's portal.
ETTSA says the airline group has breached the key provisions of the EU's Code of Conduct on computerised reservation systems (CRS).
ETTSA's secretary general, Christoph Klenner, said, "The only way for travel agents to avoid the discriminatory surcharge is to switch from traditional GDSs to an alternative platform controlled by Lufthansa, where only such content is shown that Lufthansa chooses to show."
"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. Ultimately, this will lead to a more restricted choice and increased prices for consumers who will become increasingly captive."
"That Lufthansa wants to compete with GDSs and travel agencies is not a problem for ETTSA. On the contrary, ETTSA welcomes new competitors in travel distribution. However, there are rules to follow if you want to be in this business and those rules do not allow the sort of discrimination that Lufthansa is using to push its competitors out of the market. If Lufthansa wants to run a GDS, it needs to follow the rules for GDSs," said Klenner.
"The EU Code of Conduct was designed precisely to prevent abuse by airlines who control GDSs. Therefore, the European Commission has a duty to step up and intervene in the interest of continued transparency and consumer choice," he concluded.
While the complaint has not been made public, it seems likely that it has been made on the basis of Article 10, concerning rules for so-called parent carriers, airlines which own distribution systems.
In this article, the code states "A parent carrier shall neither directly nor indirectly discriminate in favour of its own CRS by linking the use of any specific CRS by a subscriber with the receipt of any commission or other incentive or disincentive for the sale of its transport products."