Travelport brands British Airways 'disruptive and unhelpful'

By Travolution
By Travolution
December 11, 2013 01:21 PM GMT

British Airways has been branded as “disruptive and unhelpful” after it threatened to withdraw certain fares from Travelport GDSs ahead of today’s deadline for a new agreement to be reached.

The airline’s move, as part of an ongoing stalemate between the two companies, appeared to inflame the dispute with Travelport saying it regrets and does not condone such tactics being deployed by BA.

The carrier wrote to agents saying it will withdraw certain short haul economy fares from Travelport systems in the UK initially before being expanded to other countries unless a “mutually acceptable” a new full content deal can be reached.

Additionally, short haul economy tariffs sold through Travelport will carry a surcharge as part of the fare.

This is “consistent with our policy of imposing such surcharges for the provision of content to GDSs that do not meet the standards to be a fully participating GDS,” wrote head of UK and Ireland sales and marketing Richard Tams.

Should BA follow through on the actions it has outlined, Travelport warned that it will:

  • Ensure that the surcharge actually levied by BA, which impacts Travelport-connected travel agencies in the UK, is clearly stated in our displays.
  • Reimburse impacted UK agents for the additional BA surcharge related to being a Travelport subscriber. In the meantime, we urge our UK customers to ticket any BA bookings currently held as soon as possible to avoid, as far as possible, BA’s threatened surcharges.
  • Temporarily suspend the collection of opt-in fees for all those travel agencies registered in the BA opt-in programme, as the opt-in program is conditional on BA providing full content and associated protections.
  • Continue to offer extensive air content from the 400-plus airlines we distribute in our system, many of which offer alternative and highly competitive fares to BA on short-haul routes, including low cost carriers who are embracing both the travel trade and the benefits of Travelport GDS distribution.

Travelport chief commercial officer Kurt Ekert pledged to continue discussions with BA in good faith but described the carrier’s actions as “disruptive and unhelpful”.

He said: “It is regrettable that this is how this fine airline has chosen to conduct its negotiations, particularly when, as previously stated, Travelport has offered to maintain the status quo beyond the current term while both parties seek to finalise revised terms for the benefit of all concerned.

“Travelport will not put up deadlines or take proactive action against BA while our dialogue continues, but we will respond if our business, or that of our customers, is threatened.”

He added: ”We remain hopeful and optimistic that BA will continue to engage with us to reach a new long-term agreement that benefits all parties in the distribution value chain, not just one party.”

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