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Bmi is adding a credit card fee of £4.50 to all UK flights booked through a travel agent, although business class fares and flexible economy tickets within the UK are exempt.
In a statement, Bmi said: “The introduction of the optional payment charge reflects the general trend in the travel industry. It is also in line with many airlines and travel operators who have been charging fees for using a credit card for a considerable time.”
Bmi is owned by Lufthansa Group. Lufthansa itself said that it was also adding the optional payment charges to tickets purchased with a credit card. It said that charges from credit card providers were a “triple-digit million euros cost” and that it needed “to share the burden”.
Lufthansa’s charge is variable, depending on the route. A spokesperson told ABTN that Heathrow to Frankfurt would incur an €8 charge, domestic German flights would be €5 with long-haul flights costing €18.
Other Lufthansa Group airlines – Austrian, Brussels and Swiss - are also adding the charge. It will apply to all bookings for flights departing from airports in Germany, Belgium, Finland, the UK, the Netherlands and Switzerland, according to the bmi statement.
The news about the credit charge charges emerged indirectly from an announcement from AirPlus. The payment specialist has launched the AirPlus Debit Account, specifically for corporations who want to avoid credit card charges by paying from a debit rather than credit account.
The airlines who have agreed to waive charges for bookings through the Debit Account so far are Lufthansa, Swiss and, it was announced today, bmi.
However, AirPlus is owned by Lufthansa AG, leading to some suggestions – particularly in Germany - that the timing of the charges and the launch of the Debit Account was orchestrated.
AirPlus insisted that it had been working on the idea of a debit card account for years, and that it was not aware that its parent company was likely to be one of its main clients. A spokesperson told ABTN that it had been talking to other airlines about the product before Lufthansa , and that other airlines were still interested.