Lufthansa Group surcharge to harm competition, consumers
AirChannelChoice.travel to petition regulators
The Business Travel Coalition (BTC) today formally announced that in response to the Lufthansa Group’s (LHG) recently revealed policy to surcharge and discriminate against the travel agency channel, it has formed AirChannelChoice.travel as a broad coalition of global stakeholders to promote travel distribution system choice for travel agencies and their customers. Currently there are 58 Founding Members from 10 countries with business or operations in 46 countries and territories. Members include consumer groups, corporate and university travel departments, travel agencies, travel management companies (TMCs) and travel industry associations. (See members at http://btcnews.co/1KdqxRQ.)
Without consultation with its distributors, or most valuable contract customers, LHG recently announced a proposal to surcharge customers 16 Euros if they purchase a ticket anywhere other than its websites, service centers and airport ticket counters beginning on September 1, 2015. The LHG’s plans, if implemented as currently proposed, would have negative worldwide implications for the competitive structure of the industry, travel agents and their customers. (See http://btcnews.co/1MvOJhh.)
MISSION AND OBJECTIVES
The mission of AirChannelChoice.travel is to elevate the public-policy discourse regarding airline industry distribution issues and to promote travel distribution system choice for travel agencies and their customers. The objectives are to:
1) ensure that there is a powerful, well-articulated and broadly supported public-policy position regarding the issue of distribution channel discrimination;
2) encourage regulators in the EU and U.S. to pursue timely analysis and action regarding potentially anti-competitive and anti-consumer airline policies and practices in the marketplace for travel distribution services; and
3) educate legislatures and regulators on the benefits of intra channel competition in travel distribution and emerging threats and opportunities with respect to consumer choice and price transparency.
AirChannelChoice.travel is surveying its members, gathering industry views, publishing analyses, drafting signatory letters and will be scheduling stakeholder meetings with regulators in the EU and U.S. The coalition has also developed a webpage at www.AirChannelChoice.travel to serve as a resource center on this issue.
LHG is attempting to substitute its judgment for the managed-travel community’s clearly articulated preferences. Without collaboration, LHG is forcing a choice between a highly inefficient process for travel managers and their TMCs, or paying higher fares. This is a bad choice. Corporate travel managers, in close collaboration with their TMCs and technology partners, have developed a professional and productive travel procurement environment that must not be poisoned.
Anyone in the travel industry interested in distribution issues is welcome to join the coalition at no cost. Find out more about the coalition at http://AirChannelChoice.travel.
Industry professionals can join at http://btcnews.co/1I97aEZ.