American Airlines to Impose Per-Segment Booking Fees

American Airlines announced Wednesday that it would begin imposing a $3.50-per segment booking fee on travel agencies who book flights using Sabre, Amadeus and select Galileo/Apollo and Worldspan products. The new arrangements will go into effect July 12. Meanwhile, agencies using G2 Switchworks and Farelogix will be exempt from the booking fee. All agencies using any of the above GDSs will continue to receive full content from the airline "for now," according to the company. American Airlines qualified that promise by stating it may "withhold content...if (a company) fails to display American content on neutral terms as compared with other airlines." The airline made the announcement in an email distributed to agencies across the U.S. and obtained by Travel Agent. The e-mail includes a link to more descriptive explanation of the new arrangements on American Airlines' web site. Check [www.aa.com/agency] and click on the link labeled "Source Premium Policy" for additional information. American stated in its announcement that it is levying the fees because, "other booking sources charge American more to distribute content, making them less efficient distributors for American and hurting American's ability to compete. Therefore, agencies that choose to source content via these sources will be required to pay a premium." Galileo responded quickly, promising a new, "optional program that...assures Galileo-connected agents have the complete set of airfares and inventory...while protecting against airline service fees." The company added, "Details of the new program, which is expected to eventually include all of the major network carriers, will be announced in the next few days." Sabre's Chris Kroeger senior vice president, North America, said his company will return to the negotiating table with American to try to ink a deal. "Yes, we want to get off that list (of companies whose subscribers must pay a fee)," he said. "But what we work out must be balanced."

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