Now that Lufthansa Group has announced its €16 surcharge for bookings made in the GDS channel, let’s tackle the fundamental issue it raises.
If the GDS channel offers a better value to corporate buyers, then what is a fair price for using that channel?
Asked the other way, if booking directly on an airline’s website offers less value than the GDS channel, how much of a price incentive does the airline need to offer its customers?
Lufthansa has set that price at €16. If the price were €1, the corporate travel industry would still be having a tizzy fit, but only on principle. You couldn’t credibly claim that the benefits of booking in the GDS-TMC channel are not worth such a small amount.
Just to make this more debatable, assume that instead of setting a surcharge for bookings made in the GDS channel, an airline offered its corporate customers a €100 discount on all tickets booked directly via its website.
Of course the airline would see a huge take-up on that offer, because at that price, the disadvantages of the direct booking have been more than offset by the direct-channel incentive.
The point is that there must be a price at which the benefits of booking via the GDS channel matches the value received.
It is unfair to both the GDSs and the airlines to pretend otherwise.
So why shouldn’t an airline set a price and see what happens? How else will the market really know what the true value is?
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