British Airways’ Plan Lets Agents Avoid New GDS Fee

British Airways

British Airways and Iberia have launched a new distribution capability (NDC) that will allow travel agents to avoid the airlines recently-launched GDS fee.

According to a statement provided to Travel Agent, British Airways developed the NDC with TPConnects, a level 3 certified travel aggregator with the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

British Airways and Iberia, which are both owned by parent company IAG, announced back in May that the two airlines will begin applying a surcharge to bookings not made using an NDC-based connection on November 1, including bookings made through a GDS. A representative of TPConnects told Travel Agent that the NDC will allow travel agents to avoid the surcharge when booking British Airways and Iberia tickets. TPConnects is also exempt from the surcharge on Lufthansa Group flights.

TPConnects said it has integrated directly into the airlines NDC APIs with a B2B reseller platform and internet booking engine for Online Travel Agencies (OTAs). Travel agents using the TPConnects Travel Aggregator Platform or the Internet booking engine will be able to access the airlines offerings directly, including ancillary products and perform after sales service like refund, change of date and flight changes, the company said. Travel agents will also have access to rich content like videos, pictures and personalized preferences in both the B2B and online channel.

The new booking capability comes as more airlines are adding surcharges for bookings through GDS connections. Lufthansa Group added the first GDS surcharge, of 16 Euros, back in 2015, arguing that 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.

In April, Ukraine International (UIA) also introduced a fee for non-partnered travel agents when booking tickets on behalf of their clients using a GDS.

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