Air France and KLM have further delayed the introduction of their GDS surcharge for business travel agents, with the fee now set to be collected from the end of Q1 2023, the airlines confirmed to BTN Europe.
The fee, currently €13 per GDS segment booked, already applies to leisure travel agencies and was introduced to drive adoption of NDC.
It was due to expand to travel management companies this spring, but was pushed back to later this month in April. This decision was made after TMCs raised concerns about the readiness of the airlines’ NDC program and the ability to manage reservations after booking.
Those concerns still linger as Laurent Abitbol, chairman of French travel agency group Marietton Développement – whose brands include TMCs Ailleurs Business and Havas Voyages – recently told L’Echo Touristique that booking an Air France ticket through NDC takes two and a half takes minutes compared to 30 seconds via classic access to Amadeus.
“This time is not compatible with our work. Features aren’t working, including automatic refunds,” he said. “We demand that the business travel NDC be postponed by at least six months until Air France has found a quick solution with Amadeus. Technology should be a source of progress, not fear.”
A statement from the airlines said: “Air France-KLM heard the news from business travel agents that the conditions for a full role are not fully met at this time due to pressure on teams and resources in the context of a quick summer recovery-off .
“After carefully analyzing the situation with its partners, Air France-KLM has decided to give the business ecosystem and the industry until the end of March 2023 to be ready for a wider rollout. Therefore, Air France and KLM will extend the GDS surcharge exemption for business travel agencies until today [the] End of Q1 2023.”
It said the two airlines “will continue to work closely with all business stakeholders to prepare for the NDC transition” and that significant corporate pilots have taken place.
Currently, around 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 enterprise ecosystem, working with TMCs and aggregators on a scalable product via their AFKL API solution. A milestone was reached in August, it said, when the first live corporate pilots were booked through NDC.
“Significant progress has been made over the last few months, allowing us to release our API to the business segment in September and add new key features.”
This includes the automated management of complex reimbursement cases (e.g. partially flown itineraries) and the development of new private fares.
The airlines’ statement concluded: “Over the next six months, Air France-KLM will continue to work closely with all stakeholders to execute successful corporate pilots and enhance both NDC technology and new content for the benefit of customers.”