Australian flag carrier Qantas introduced a new commercial structure for travel agencies to promote adoption of New Distribution Capability-compatible connections, either through a global distribution system or another approved tech provider. Its pitch to agencies includes the threat of a $12.50 per-segment surcharge on GDS bookings and diminished content access but also a private channel-type framework as a path for agencies to avoid both.
With less than two weeks to go before Air France-KLM enacts an 11 euro per-way surcharge on global distribution system bookings, the Franco-Dutch airline group remains in discussions with GDS operators on private-channel arrangements that could shield select travel agencies from the fee.
More than three months after Air France-KLM introduced a surcharge on global distribution system bookings, Sabre and the airline group are at an impasse on reaching a private channel deal that would enable Sabre's agency subscribers selected by the airline group to book without fee.
Amadeus and Travelport this week confirmed they have individually reached private-channel agreements with Air France-KLM.
Amadeus during its third-quarter results presentation Wednesday acknowledged that moves by the three largest European airline groups to surcharge global distribution system bookings and drive bookings directly to their own channels are playing a role in disintermediating the GDSs. Yet, CEO Luis Maroto said he wasn't too worried about an acceleration in disintermediation.
For several years, Amadeus' global distribution system business was on a tear. In the five years leading up to 2018, it gained a net 5 percentage points in market share of airline bookings processed by major GDSs worldwide to solidify its position as the alpha GDS. Last year, however, Amadeus' air booking share bucked the trend with a rare contraction, albeit by less than a percentage point, the company reported Thursday in full-year and fourth-quarter results.
British Airways and Iberia parent International Airlines Group told investors last week that 17 percent of its indirect distribution volume is flowing through application programming interfaces or New Distribution Capability-based connections. IAG director of strategy Robert Boyle said the group is well positioned to beat the target of delivering 20 percent of indirect volume by 2020 as a participant in the International Air Transport Association's Leaderboard initiative.
BCD Travel early next year plans to pilot New Distribution Capability bookings with Lufthansa Group and two undisclosed non-global distribution system aggregators.
Most of the top 10 travel management companies in the U.K. have confirmed they've reached deals to waive British Airways' global distribution system surcharge for clients. Many of the TMCs, including the largest, described their arrangements as private-channel deals, the model facilitated by GDSs to shield customers from the airline's fee of 8 British pounds per fare component.