Published on Friday, February 18, 2011

Agents relieved after AA drops charges

UK agents have breathed a sigh of relief after American Airlines decided not to go ahead with the threatened introduction of a charge on GDS bookings.

The airline had threatened charges of up to around £6 per sector on bookings on Travelport’s Galileo and Worldspan GDSs.

SPAA vice president and air committee convenor Kevin Thom said: “Having strongly protested against the proposed introduction of this regressive charge, along with our colleague travel bodies, we are pleased to see that common sense has prevailed on this issue.

“As we have always maintained - GDS is fundamentally the most efficient distribution system available, providing a proven and neutral mechanism for the display and booking of air travel by whichever channel – TMCs, online agents or others.

“American Airlines were attempting to force an unwanted and unnecessary solution, Direct Connect, onto customers, regardless of their booking channel preference, with a financial penalty for ‘non-compliance’.”

But he warned that the battle between AA and Travelport has not yet been fully resolved.

“Of course, the dispute between AA and Travelport continues, and has yet to come to court. Rest assured, though, the SPAA will continue to watch developments carefully.”

The Guild of Travel Management Companies said it was also relieved at AA’s u-turn.

“We were vocal in our criticism of American Airlines’ proposal. However, our wish was always that this matter be resolved,” said chief executive Anne Godfrey.

“It remains essential that all TMCs have equal access to all content through all channels.  The proposed imposition of a surcharge by American Airlines for bookings made on one specific channel in certain markets would have unavoidably disadvantaged some TMCs at a time when business levels are showing signs of recovering.

"The GTMC will continue to monitor the ongoing situation and to speak out whenever our members are disadvantaged by such threats to the current distribution model.”

Kurt Ekert, chief commercial officer for Travelport GDS, thanked customers from around the world for the overwhelming support it has received on the matter.

By Bev Fearis

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