Expedia Group reports that it has reached an agreement with Air France – KLM to avoid the airline group’s newly implemented surcharge on GDS bookings.
Expedia Group, which includes OTAs like Expedia and Hotels.com, as well as the Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel agency and the Egencia corporate travel management company, reports that its leisure and corporate customers in all markets in Europe (including the UK and Switzerland) will not be charged the new surcharge on Air France, KLM and Hop! flights. Expedia Group and Air France – KLM have also committed to collaborate on the integration of new distribution capabilities (NDC).
Air France – KLM’s €11 surcharge on GDS bookings went into effect April 1, making it the latest airline group to charge a similar fee. 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.
Lufthansa Group had argued that the new fee was necessary because the cost of distribution through GDS was higher than through other channels. The new policy drew criticism from travel industry groups and travel agents, with then-Travel Leaders Group CEO Barry Liben arguing that the move would place Lufthansa “at a competitive disadvantage on airfare pricing.”
Since then other travel aggregators, such as TPConnects, have launched NDC connections that allow travel agencies to book while avoiding the surcharges. American Airlines, meanwhile, has adopted a different approach – instead of implementing a GDS fee, it announced it would pay travel agents commission for booking through its Qualified NDC Channel back in August.