Lufthansa offered a vigorous defense of its position on its Preferred Fares Program in response to criticism by the Business Travel Coalition (BTC). The BTC sent a letter to Lufthansa’s CEO protesting the PFP program and questioning its impact on travel agents.
“We remain convinced of the added value and technical efficiency of GDSs for our sales and distribution, but the commercial model of this system needs to change to find ways to make sales via GDSs more cost-effective in the future, too,” Lufthansa said. “In consequence, the Preferred Fares Program also ensures our efficiency in the future and will enable Lufthansa to continue to be a stable and reliable partner for both our customers and our travel agencies.”
Lufthansa offered background on the issue, stating that the PFP program was announced a year ago and implemented over the past six months. The carrier believes the program is only now gaining attention due to Amadeus' recently announced plan to stop covering a fee associated with its implementation.
“Principally, GDS subscribers in the U.S. who are selling O&Ds (origin/destinations) originating in those European markets are not assessed the fee and will still have access to the published fares," Lufthansa said. "Again, this fee only applies to Amadeus bookings for Lufthansa flights originating in Germany, Austria or Switzerland— agents can still use the other GDSs such as Sabre, Galileo or Worldspan to make their bookings. Earlier this year, a court in Hamburg ruled against Amadeus' request to ban our PFP. More recently, the International Trade Court in Paris also ruled in Lufthansa's favor in this matter. Lufthansa is certainly interested in achieving a solution with Amadeus.”
A spokesperson for Lufthansa said that “so far the customers that we have spoken with in the markets where this has played out are accepting of the new program. All the major travel agency chains in Germany for example have reached an agreement with us, (and) all three of the other GDSs.”
The BTC Signatory Letter was sent to Lufthansa Chairman and CEO Wolfgang Mayrhuber and was signed by 147 corporate travel managers, travel industry associations and key stakeholders from 10 countries, 99 of which are headquartered or have operations in Germany.