Qantas will transform its distribution model beginning Aug. 1 with the introduction of a private GDS channel. 

All IATA- and ARC-accredited agencies will be eligible to join the new Qantas Distribution Channel, which agencies will be able to access via Sabre, Travelport and Amadeus, as well as selected Qantas direct-connect technology partners. 

Agencies that agree to participate in the Qantas channel will gain access to tailored fares that won't be available in the standard GDS channel, including additional price points beyond the 26 ATPCO fare classes supported by legacy GDS technology. Agents will be eligible for bonus commissions for booking selected flights. And the Qantas channel will offer a variety of ancillary products that Qantas doesn't sell in the standard GDS channel, including seat selection. 

Conversely, agencies that don't join the Qantas channel will be subject to a booking surcharge of $12.50 per segment. They'll also lose access to some fare classes that Qantas currently sells through the GDS on itineraries that commence in Australia. 

Qantas said that the majority of its key agency partners have agreed to participate in the private channel, including Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Expedia Group, Virtuoso, Flight Centre, CT Connections and Consolidated Travel Group, among others. 

Qantas chief customer officer Vanessa Hudson said the private channel will allow agencies to deliver more specialized Qantas products to customers.

"We know our customers expect an increasingly personalized, flexible and seamless experience no matter how or where they make their booking, whether it's directly with us or indirectly through a corporate travel manager, online agent or their local travel agent," Hudson said. 

The airline said that registration for the Qantas channel will open March 1 for selected agencies and consolidators. Registration will open to all agencies on April 1. To guarantee access to the private channel from its Aug. 1 launch date, agencies must finalize agreements with Qantas and their GDS by May 31. 

In developing a private channel within the GDSs, Qantas is following the lead of IAG, parent of British Airways and Iberia, which pioneered the concept in the fall of 2017. Air France KLM followed suit last spring. 

Under those arrangements, agencies consent to forfeiting booking incentives traditionally paid by the GDSs in exchange for the perks that come with the private channel, and to avoid a booking surcharge from the airline. 

The GDSs, meanwhile, charge the airline a smaller segment fee on private channel bookings than they charge the carrier on bookings through the standard GDS channel.

Qantas' launch of its private distribution channel follows the carrier's roll-out last year of a distribution platform supported by IATA's New Distribution Capability (NDC), the XML messaging standard that promises to enable airlines to sell more products through the GDSs.

Sabre on Thursday said that the new distribution agreement it has entered into with Qantas will further its Beyond NDC initiative, which is committed to driving industry adoption of the messaging standard. 

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