UK agents have been hit by news that American Airlines is to start charging them for bookings through Galileo and Worldspan from next month.
The airline is imposing fees of up to £6.24 per sector on bookings through Travelport"s GDSs outside of its home market from December 20.
The decision comes amid a row between American and Travelport over distribution in the US.
Travelport is taking legal action against American Airlines after the airline decided to prevent Travelport"s sister company, Orbtiz, from selling its flights.
Travelport confirmed it was taking a number of actions to defend travel agents and consumers commensurate with AA's anti-consumer and anti-competitive actions.
Anne Godfrey, chief executive of the Guild of Management Travel Companies, said American"s decision would penalize loyal agents and could be seen as an attack on the distribution model.
"It is imperative that this issue is resolved without causing further damage to those who have remained loyal to both airline and GDS over a number of years," she said.
"The GTMC calls upon both parties to resolve the situation before any long-term damage is done to relationships within the industry."
Over half of GTMC members use Galileo or Worldspan.
The only way to avoid the fees is to book directly with the airline.
A spokesman for American Airlines defended the decision and explained: "Unfortunately, Travelport very recently notified American of dramatic booking fee increases for bookings made in markets outside the US using the GDSs owned and operated by Travelport - these being Apollo/Galileo and Worldspan.
"These GDSs have become significantly more expensive to American than all other booking platforms in the affected international markets. To the extent that agencies particularly value the service of one of these GDSs, American has asked them to absorb their cost premium to American, known as the Booking Source Premium, to the degree necessary to bring the net cost of such GDSs reasonably in line with the cost to American of other GDSs."
By Bev Fearis
Thursday, November 25, 2010