British Airways’ £8 booking fee on GDS sales hits Scottish agents harder than those south of the border, says the Scottish Passengers’ Agents Association, writes Ben Ireland.
SPAA president Ken McLeod said the fee had a “disproportionate effect” on independent Scottish agents who booked a higher proportion of BA flights, including many domestic routes.
BA introduced the ‘per sector’ fee last November, following rival Lufthansa, which introduced a €16 charge in 2015. BA has since struck fee-waiver agreements with some of the larger travel management companies (TMCs).
Speaking ahead of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association’s 88th annual dinner next week, Ken McLeod said: “There’s a disproportionate effect for Scottish agents [using a GDS] because of the vast amount of domestic traffic they book in relation to total turnover.”
He said this was hurting small agents more and playing to the advantage of large TMCs which have struck deals with BA.
The airline operates more than 40 daily flights each way from Glasgow and Edinburgh to London airports.
McLeod, who is also director of industry affairs at The Advantage Travel Partnership, said Scottish agents typically book clients to London for business and long-haul connections and fees “hit harder” on domestic routes as they represent a larger proportion of the cost of the fare.
“If 50% of your bookings incur an £8 fee, you are really disadvantaged,” he said.
“For the big guys [with GDS agreements], the percentage of business being charged on will be less than 1%.
“We are not saying they should get preferential treatment, but Scottish agents are disadvantaged. BA forgets small agencies provide a huge amount of business; it’s their bread and butter.”
BA said the fee covers the higher costs it faces selling via GDS rather than direct and said other options incur no charge, such as a booking portal for agents which has now been made live.
A spokeswoman added that the GDS fee is only charged once on through-fares, such as Edinburgh to New York JFK, via Heathrow.