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Association Warns That Lufthansa Credit Card Fee Adds to Confusion

The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) today warned that it believes that the move by Lufthansa to introduce credit card charges for bookings made through the GDS in key European markets will add further confusion and damage relations with buyers because of increased cost and reduced transparency.

Lufthansa said the decision was due to "rising payment transaction costs in recent years and new developments in forms of payment."

GBTA's advocacy group, which met last week to discuss the latest announcement by Lufthansa, will be investigating some of the detailed implications of Lufthansa’s credit card charge. Under consideration is the question of where the charge will be displayed during the booking process so bookers understand the total trip cost at the point of sale.

Speaking about the recent announcement the GBTA Europe Advocacy Group Chairman, Hans Ingo Biehl, said, “We have seen these credit card charges being introduced sporadically across Europe by carriers in the last few years. The Lufthansa move adds considerably more cost and confusion to buyers in the markets affected. We understand airlines re-visit business models but our primary concern is whether these charges are only presented at the end of the booking when by rights it should be at the fare comparison stage at the beginning of the booking process. We also think it very critical that these changes may have implications to contracts in the middle of existing contractual periods. This will naturally form part of our feedback to the European Commission as part of their review of ancillary fees.”

GBTA Europe believes that, as most corporate relationships with intermediaries and airlines are based on pre-determined payment methods, it should be easy for the distribution system to factor in the credit card fee at the shopping phase of the booking, allowing fully transparent pricing. The association is recommending that its buyer members ask the airline and distribution systems to load the cost at the beginning of the booking stage. It is also suggesting that buyers bring the cost of these fees into future negotiations with the carrier.

The association plans to survey the opinion of its members on this issue and other industry affairs in Europe in the run up to its conference in Amsterdam for presentation to the European Commission later in the year.