Travelport deal enables some agencies to avoid Air France-KLM surcharge

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Selected travel agencies booking Air France and KLM flights through Travelport won't be subject to the one-way 11 euro GDS surcharge that Air France-KLM will implement on April 1.

Travelport revealed the arrangement for Air France-KLM to utilize a so-called "private channel" within its booking platform as part of a broader announcement Wednesday that the companies have signed a new distribution agreement.

Travelport, Amadeus and Sabre entered into their first private-channel deals last fall -- all of them with IAG, parent of British Airways and Iberia. Those airlines implemented a $10 GDS surcharge on Nov. 1.

Under those arrangements, agencies entering into private-channel agreements with IAG have access to airfares that don't include the GDS surcharge plus a wider selection of British Airways and Iberia fare bundles and ancillary products. In exchange for those carrots, the agencies typically consent to forfeit GDS booking incentives.

In its initial phases, IAG opened its private channel to large TMCs such as Carlson Wagonlit, Hogg Robinson Group, BCD Travel and American Express Global Business Travel.

Travelport didn't elaborate on details of its private-channel agreement with Air France-KLM.

Sabre said that it is in "constant discussions" to reach a new distribution agreement with Air France-KLM as the April 1 implementation of the surcharge approaches.

"We recognize the significance of this deal to our agency customers and, as we approach an agreement, our priority is in securing the best terms for them," Sabre spokesman Tim Enstice said.

He also said that Sabre believes IATA's New Distribution Capability (NDC), the XML messaging standard that promises to enable airlines to sell more products through the GDSs, provides a better opportunity than the private channel to improve travel distribution. 

Amadeus did not immediately respond Wednesday to an inquiry about the status of its content agreement with Air France-KLM.

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