Fears of fragmented air travel market allayed
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Travellers are back in business class
18 February 2011 | Angeline Albert
The Institute ofTravel & Meetings (ITM) has asked EU officials
to investigate moves by airlines to unbundle services, which increase cost and
reduce visibility of fare data to business travellers.
CEO of the ITM Paul Tilstone said all airlines are beginning
to unbundle – in other words add on extra charges at the end of the process,
such as for luggage, taxes and fuel surcharges, rather than giving one overall
“They are offering one price at the front-end of the
shopping site but this is not the final price, extra charges are added for
services. This is not allowing the agent to see the right price at the front
end and they cannot properly compare fare data.”
ITM submitted questions to the UK government’s transport
committee, which is sending a delegation to Brussels in March to seek
The US-driven National Business Travel Association (NBTA),
which changed its name to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA)
on 3 February, forwarded its enquiries on these matters to the ITM in
Tilstone, who is also managing director of GBTA Europe, a
network of travel managers and travel service providers, said he was also
concerned about the impact of ‘direct connect’ technology.
“We want the EU to investigate direct connect technology.
Directly connecting to travel management companies (TMCs) gives airlines more
control over prices. TMCs have to access global distribution systems (GDSs) and
the airline’s system to get a competitive price. This involves more time and investing
in workaround technology at more cost.”
The concern is that buyers will pay more if airlines bypass
existing global distribution systems (GDSs) – computer systems that book and
sell tickets for multiple airlines – and choose to directly connect with
customers to sell tickets.
(AA) told Tilstone its direct connect system is already in operation with business
travel agencies in Spain, Germany and India.
Tilstone said: “In support of GBTA’s overall position on
direct connect and unbundling, we have engaged with all three GDSs and with
American Airlines directly. When AA advised us they had real-life examples of
the technology, we jumped at the chance to investigate further and check what
the real implications were for comparative shopping and data collection.”
Clarification is also sought from EU officials on efforts to
standardise airport security procedures across Europe. In addition, Tilstone
wants the EU to encourage EU member states to better manage taxation for the
business travel market, to avoid it being an easy tax target for higher prices.
Tilstone expects to hear the EU’s feedback via the
UK government’s transport committee by the end of March.