ITM’s position is that the principal of unbundling appeals to the travel procurement community but the practice is less transparent and causes multiple issues. E.g. fuel is unbundled on many carriers but buyers are unable to negotiate a price on that cost. The ITM look for standardisation (fare filing, contracting) and data solutions to provide the level of transparency required.
Such ‘additional’ fees should be subject to the same level of contract negotiation as the base fares themselves. ITM recognises that some carriers are willing to open such debate, however, we seek greater consistency. ITM recommend that all concerned buyers should engage with their Travel Management Company to assess the material impact of potential ‘additional’ costs that they are able to identify, as well as speak with their airline suppliers to obtain the granular data that they are able to produce in relation to the various fees that they are paid for e.g. seat selection, baggage, etc.
ITM requires clarity from the airlines, TMCs, IATA and government on what elements are included in the fare and those outside the core fare; all such fees should be refundable on cancellation without additional charge if the service or product has not been used. With British Airways specifically being such a large presence in the UK market, the ITM urge all corporations to discuss future bookings with BA with their TMC’s and SBT’s. Their approaches will vary; cost avoidance and not cost shifting is important.
Furthermore, a) the LHG stance in 2015 – a disproportionate levy believed to have been announced with no consultation - as well as b) Marriott’s stance on Wi-Fi - are a worrying trend and c) BA’s decision to change credit card fees with minimal notice. The industry must get better at full corporate engagement (not just with TMC’s) before suppliers announce new strategies.
Irrespective of whether carriers adopt NDC, it is vital that if carriers wish to bypass the GDS that they give the corporate community a viable alternative and give their technology partners time to develop that alternative connectivity. LHG did not do this but EasyJet, for example, does allow people to book via the GDS or via their API. Larger organisations should work with their booking channels and BA to expedite a clean cost-effective solution with the corporate in complete control of what is displayed or sold to their users. For smaller organisations, they should work with their TMC to achieve a clean cost-effective solution.
Strategy for the buyers in the short term to avoid the BA NDC fee? 1) Switch GDS to Amadeus, 2) ticket transatlantic tickets on American (but Gold card holders’ status may not be recognised), 3) book a rival carrier (not Lufthansa!) 4) pay the fee