European travel agent association ECTAA on Friday filed a "formal complaint" with the European Commission against the Lufthansa Group, challenging its proposed €16 surcharge set to take effect in September.
The complaint follows "a detailed legal analysis of the Lufthansa announcement" and alleges Lufthansa's distribution plan breaches the European Commission's Code of Conduct for Global Distribution Systems, according to ECTAA.
Lufthansa has positioned its agent portal, which also covers group airlines Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Swiss, as a way for agents to avoid its proposed surcharge on tickets booked via a GDS.
"ECTAA and its member associations reached the conclusion that these were not efficient and viable alternatives, as they would constitute a considerable step backwards to the currently highly automated booking and ticketing processes through GDSs," according to ECTAA.
The complaint is premised on ECTAA's interpretation that Lufthansa's agent portal meets the EC definition of a "computer reservation system," and therefore the airline group is beholden to EC regulations governing "parent carriers" of such systems.
The EC defines a CRS as "a computerised system containing information about, inter alia, schedules, availability and fares, of more than one air carrier, with or without facilities to make reservations or issue tickets, to the extent that some or all of these services are made available to subscribers."
Specifically, ECTAA claims Lufthansa is in breach of articles 10.4 and 10.5 of the European GDS code, which state:
10.4. A parent carrier shall neither directly nor indirectly discriminate in favour of its own CRS by linking the use of any specific CRS by a subscriber with the receipt of any commission or other incentive or disincentive for the sale of its transport products.
10.5. A parent carrier shall neither directly nor indirectly discriminate in favour of its own CRS by requiring the use of any specific CRS by a subscriber for sale or issue of tickets for any transport products provided either directly or indirectly by itself.
ECTAA declined to provide a full copy of its complaint filed on Friday, calling it "confidential." Meanwhile, Lufthansa did not immediately reply to a request to comment.
ECTAA also indicated it is "pursuing legal investigations" to determine if Lufthansa's distribution actions also violate European antitrust competition rules.