Air France-KLM mulls following Lufthansa's ticket charge move

MIAMI - Air France-KLM is considering following a move by Lufthansa to levy a charge on tickets booked via third parties as a way of increasing its per-ticket earnings, the airline's chief executive said on Monday.

Lufthansa said last week it was implementing a 16 euro (S$24) surcharge for tickets booked via third-parties on global distribution systems (GDS), a decision that prompted ire from providers such as Amadeus and Sabre plus travel agents, which will now have to use a different system to avoid the charge.

The Lufthansa move means it will be cheaper for customers to book tickets via its own website, rather than via price comparison sites. "It's a key issue, an absolutely key issue for us. We are evaluating the option," Alexandre de Juniac told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

"The majority of our revenues comes from the GDS." Lufthansa has said that two-thirds of its flights are booked via GDS. De Juniac declined to specify further which percentage of its ticket sales came via the systems.

He said, however, that Air France-KLM still has two years left to run on its contract with Amadeus, meaning implementing a surcharge similar to Lufthansa's would be very complex from a legal, contractual and financial point of view.

Other airline CEOs attending the industry meeting, such as IAG's Willie Walsh and Alaska Airline's Brad Tilden, applauded Lufthansa for its decision but remained coy on whether they would follow suit.

"We need to see value with our providers. I think it's a brave step and I commend him for it," Etihad CEO James Hogan said, referring to Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr.