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GTMC chief executive Paul Wait has accused airlines that have or plan to introduce a surcharge on GDS bookings of “disrespecting” the value of the B2B channel and not outlining the “true cost of direct selling”.
In his speech at the annual GTMC conference in Monaco, Wait, who steps down from the organisation later this year, attacked British Airways and Lufthansa for introducing fees for each booking not made through a direct channel.
British Airways announced last month that it would introduce an £8 surcharge in November, which followed a similar decision by Lufthansa in 2015.Wait, in his final annual conference address, said: “It is with great sadness that I should be leaving my role at the GTMC at a time when we are in direct opposition with companies such as Lufthansa and British Airways on the subject of channel inequality and channel discrimination.
“Like the hotel industry your problems stem from creating your own monsters - the online travel and hotel booking agents.“You need the online world, you need the GDS, you may well have commercial challenges - don’t we all - but don’t disrespect the value of the B2B channel that delivers you the greatest overall value and average ticket price.“We don’t believe or accept that our channel is the most expensive, not if you truly understand our value and take into consideration the true cost of direct selling: the technology development costs, the advertising, the look-to-book rates to deliver a low average ticket price. Or is it more about bags and seats?”Wait asked the airlines to explain the level of surcharge when the cost of using a GDS is around £2 and “yet the cost of a transaction by Google is more like £16”.He added that nobody in the TMC community was resisting change and they want to be part of the transformation but not “when the alternatives on offer are not fit for purpose”.“We need an enhanced and extended version of what we have now - not an alternative. In my personal opinion, when NDC reaches critical mass they will realise it is far more expensive than their current distribution model and will deliver lower return on investment than today,” he said.Wait called for “honesty and clarity” from airlines as well as the GDS companies or “it could get messy”.