A European trade body representing GDSs and online travel agents has filed a formal complaint with the European Commission against Lufthansa, Austrian, Swiss and Brussels Airlines.
The European Technology and Travel Services Association (ETTSA) is claiming a breach of ‘key provisions’ of the EU’s code of conduct on computerised reservation systems (CRS) since the group announced it would charge €16 for every booking made via a GDS.
ETTSA claims the charge is “discriminating” against customers who use independent travel agents to book their tickets.
“The only way for travel agents to avoid the discriminatory surcharge is to switch from traditional Global Distribution Systems (GDSs) to an alternative platform controlled by Lufthansa, where only such content is shown that Lufthansa chooses to show," said ETTSA's secretary general, Christoph Klenner.
"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," said Klenner, adding: "Ultimately, this will lead to a more restricted choice and increased prices for consumers who will become increasingly captive”.
He said ETTSA welcomes new competitors in travel distribution but not if rules are in place to push competitors out of the market.
"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 added.
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