British Airways and Iberia will implement a $10 surcharge per
"fare component" on bookings through the GDS, beginning Nov. 1.
The carriers, both owned by International Airline Group
(IAG), announced the policy in a letter to U.K. travel agents.
IAG said it would implement the fee to make up for the extra
costs of merchandising through the GDSs. BA and Iberia emphasized that over the
last few years they have invested substantially in IATA’s New Distribution
Capability (NDC), the XML-based standard that lays the groundwork for airlines
to sell all of their products, including ancillaries, through travel agencies.
“Our distribution strategy is focused on providing an
enhanced range of booking options to our partners,” the carriers said.
They defined a fare component as, “a portion of a journey or
itinerary between two consecutive fare break points.” In most cases, BA and
Iberia said, a fare component is equivalent to an origin and destination
Agents who wish to book BA and Iberia tickets without the
surcharge can use direct channels, such as the airline websites and call
centers. They can also use NDC direct connections, NDC connections via ticket
aggregators and self-booking tools with a direct connect to BA or Iberia.
A new IAG booking portal will be available shortly.
BA and Iberia follow Lufthansa, which began charging an $18
GDS surcharge in September 2015.
Travel agents in the U.S. and Europe objected strongly to
that move, fearing that it could be a harbinger to the disruption of the
longstanding industry business model.
In a statement about the decision, ASTA said, "As with
Lufthansa's GDS surcharge, ASTA’s position is that while the creation of a
'trade portal' is a positive sign, the complications these changes will present
to our member companies' business operations -- as well as their presumed intent
to make it difficult for agents to comparison shop on behalf of clients -- only
disservices the end traveler. We will continue to monitor these developments
and advocate for our members on the issue as it continues to evolve."