Lufthansa claims it has achieved more progress with “B2B direct connections” in the last six months than in the previous five years.
The airline group said during the ITB event in Berlin this week that the “strategic realignment” of its distribution strategy, first introduced in June 2015, has seen it build a number of “essential building blocks” through working with technology providers, intermediaries and by using the IATA NDC standard.
Jens Bischof, Lufthansa Group’s executive vice president Sales and chief commercial officer, did not mention the success or otherwise of the decision to introduce a surcharge on all bookings made via the GDS.
Instead, Lufthansa is starting to make progress with a string of direct connections between it and wholesalers and other intermediaries, allowing them to bypass the Euro 12 fee.
Arguably top of the pile of direct connect partners is Hogg Robinson Group, the major corporate services company.
Lufthansa says the pair are working jointly on a platform for both the travel management division (HRG) and Fraedom brand.
The news that HRG is on-board will be seen as a significant moment in the debate, not least because many of the global TMCs and their representative bodies, plus the GDSs, have so-far dismissed the Lufthansa strategy as being flawed.
Joining HRG are wholesalers AerTicket and FTI-Ticketshop, alongside corporate agency, Lufthansa City Center.
On the leisure travel side, TUI’s name has been released as another major player joining the fray, alongside L’TUR and VTours.
Lufthansa says it in the process of “constructive exchange” with Thomas Cook over the introduction of a direct connection.
Meanwhile, Lufthansa’s agreement with Google to allow consumers to book their flights directly on the search engine is to be extended to travellers in France, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Poland and Canada.
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