Air France and KLM have further postponed the introduction of its GDS surcharge for business travel agencies, with the fee now due to be levied from the end of Q1 2023, the airlines confirmed to BTN Europe.
The fee, currently €13 per GDS-booked segment, already applies to leisure travel agencies and was introduced in a bid to drive NDC adoption.
It was intended to be expanded to travel management companies this spring but in April was postponed to the end of this month. That decision was taken after TMCs expressed concerns about the readiness of the airlines’ NDC program and the ability to manage reservations post-booking.
Those concerns still exist, with Laurent Abitbol, chairman of French travel agency group Marietton Développement – whose brands include TMCs Ailleurs Business and Havas Voyages – recently telling L’Echo Touristique that booking an Air France ticket via NDC takes two-and-a-half minutes compared to 30 seconds via classic access to Amadeus.
“This time is incompatible with our activity. Features do not work, including automatic reimbursement,” he said. “We are asking for the NDC to be postponed for at least six months in business travel, as long as Air France has not found a quick solution with Amadeus. Technology should be a source of progress, not anxiety.”
A statement from the airlines said: “Air France-KLM heard the message from business travel agents that, with teams and resources under pressure in a context of fast recovery during summer, conditions are not entirely met at this point in time for a full roll-out.
“After having carefully analysed the situation with its partners, Air France-KLM has decided to give until the end of March 2023 for the business ecosystem and the industry to be ready for a wider roll-out. Therefore, Air France and KLM will extend the GDS surcharge waiving for business agencies in place today until [the] end of Q1 2023.”
It said the two carriers “will continue to work closely with all business stakeholders to prepare NDC transition” and that significant corporate pilots have taken place.
Currently, some 75 percent of Air France and KLM’s online leisure bookings are processed via NDC-enabled technology.
The airlines said they are now focusing on the corporate ecosystem and working with TMCs and aggregators towards a scalable product via its AFKL API solution. A milestone was reached in August, it said, with the first live corporate pilots booking via NDC.
“Significant progress was made in the last months and allows us to release our API for the business segment in September, adding new key functionalities.”
These include automated management of complex refund cases (such as partially flown itineraries) and the development of new private fares.
The airlines’ statement concluded: “During the next six months, Air France-KLM will continue to work closely with all stakeholders to run successful corporate pilots, improve both NDC technology and new content for the benefit of customers.”
Originally published by BTN Europe.