BTC Forms Another Spinoff Group To Fight Lufthansa
Just as it did to combat the debate on Open Skies Agreements, the Business Travel Coalition (BTC), in response to the Lufthansa Group’s new policy to implement a surcharge on tickets not booked through the airline itself, has formed AirChannelChoice.travel as a broad coalition of global stakeholders to promote travel distribution system choice for travel agencies and their customers.
BTC called Lufthansa’s decision to charge customer 16 euros if they purchase a ticket anywhere other than the German carrier’s websites, service centers and airport ticket counters, “a possible abuse of its dominant market position.”
The new policy goes into effect Sept. 1.
At a recent industry gathering several airline CEOs publicly supported the LHG gambit and 96 out of 120 airlines polled indicated they would consider following the LHG’s lead.
The BTC said that if other airlines followed suit, “tacit coordination of policies is a real danger for consumers. (Lufthansa’s) plans, if implemented as currently proposed, would have negative worldwide implications for the competitive structure of the industry, travel agents and their customers.
BTC says 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.
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