AmEx GBT Signs Deal to Avoid Air France’s GDS Fee

American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) reports that it has reached an agreement with Air France - KLM enabling GBT customers to bypass the airline group’s new GDS fee.

In November 2017, Air France KLM announced that starting April 1, 2018, bookings made through indirect channels, such as GDSs and online booking tools (OBTs), would be charged an 11€ fee. GBT says that Air France - KLM has agreed to exempt it from this surcharge and continue providing consolidated and transparent content access. The agreement is subject to the GDSs entering private channel arrangements with Air France KLM. Of the three main GDSs, two have reached agreements with Air France - KLM, while the other remains in active dialogue, GBT said.

“Our customers want simple, aggregated and transparent access to air content,” said Michael Qualantone, executive vice president, global supplier relations for GBT, in a written statement. “We seek key strategic partners who recognize this and will work with us to give customers the booking access and experience they deserve. We are advocating collaboration among airline and distribution partners to deliver the most comprehensive access to air content, the best pricing and shopping environment, within the robust servicing provided by the GDSs.”

“We fully recognize the value that the business travel segment, including all servicing and distribution partners, brings to our business,” said Pieter Bootsma, EVP Commercial Strategy for Air France KLM. “This agreement will continue the strategic relationship we have with GBT as we look to jointly provide corporate customers with the highest levels of customer experience and cost-efficiency.”

The deal makes GBT the latest company to sign a deal to avoid Air France – KLM’s newly implemented GDS fee. Last week Expedia Group, which includes OTAs like Expedia and, as well as the Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel agency and the Egencia corporate travel management company, signed a similar deal with Air France – KLM.

Air France – KLM is the latest airline group to implement a surcharge on GDS bookings. Lufthansa Group implemented the first such fee on flights by Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Swiss International Air Lines, followed by IAG, which owns British Airways and Iberia.

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