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Travel agents berate Lufthansa over surcharge through GDS

ANTHONY OMOH 
Travel agents under the auspices of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agents (NANTA) have cried foul over German airline, Lufthansa’s planned surcharge of 16 euro for tickets issued through the General Distribution Systems (GDS) from September, 2015.
This is as they have called on regulatory bodies to sanitize the travel industry market with a view to ensuring that fares offered in Nigeria are at par with those of other countries and that Airlines operating in Nigeria, conform to global best practices.

Lufthansa German Airline


NANTA also decried what it described as sharp practices engaged by some foreign airlines which has direct impact on the passenger and the travel business and lead to capital flight from the country using the latest Lufthansa surcharge as an example.
According to a statement obtained by Nigerianflightdeck and signed by National President of NANTA, Alhaji Aminu Agoha, all airlines currently operating under the GDS scheme in Nigeria are subjected to same charges as Lufthansa but have not introduced any GDS Charges which in Lufthansa’s case would scheme the travel agents out of business.
 Furthermore, the agents stated that the palliatives which Lufthansa is offering Travel Agencies Worldwide, do not add any value to the Nigerian market.
The statement in part read,” We were informed that the increase was a business decision to help the group recover payments which they make to the GDS’s for their services. To compensate their agents worldwide, they have developed a Travel Agency Portal which if used to make reservations, would compute fares less 16 euro. “
“Specifically for the Nigerian market, they promised to start charging walk-in customers service charges of $50 and $100 for economy and business class tickets respectively so that Travel Agency fares would be cheaper than theirs. “
This move, however, according to NANTA may be a gimmick which will affect the travel agents adversely as they discovered that the Travel Agent portal Lufthansa introduced, is programmed to operate on a “cash and carry basis meaning that travel agents will have to make immediate payment for each ticket booked as the portal is not synchronized with the IATA Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP).
The statement read,” In the first instance, introducing service charges on tickets they sell directly to the few walk-in customers to their city offices, will only minimally affect Travel Agent’s sales. Also, upon further investigations, we discovered that the Travel Agent portal, which they propose to introduce, is programmed to operate on a “cash and carry” basis.”
“ What this means is that for each ticket booked on that portal, the travel agent will have to make immediate payment by cash as the portal is not synced with IATA’s Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP). “
“We are alarmed that such a proposal, which could potentially take us back to the pre-BSP era of cash sales, is being proposed to us as a palliative! In an era when the Nigerian economy is going cashless, Lufthansa is introducing a product that would be purely on “cash and carry” basis, many years after the introduction of BSP in Nigeria. “
“ Also, Lufthansa’s plan to sign on non-IATA accredited travel agents onto the so called Travel Agent portal will re-introduce unprofessional conduct and inefficiency –elements we have fought long and hard to eliminate-from our market.  Lufthansa’s planned surcharge of 16 euro will increase the cost of Lufthansa tickets in Nigeria. “
“Another Airline operating in Nigeria which has its own travel agent booking portal, in addition to the GDS is not introducing extra charges for bookings done via the GDS. We therefore view this planned charges by Lufthansa as another ploy to engage in Capital flight.  “
“Although this surcharge will be borne directly by our passengers, we are of the view that it is our duty, as travel agents, to protect our loyal passengers and the Nigerian public by informing them of the unnecessary extra charges which they will incur each time they chose to fly Lufthansa. We call on all Travel Agents in Nigeria to ensure that their passengers are aware of this charge and advise them of cheaper alternatives. “
“We hope that this measure will drastically reduce the sale of Lufthansa tickets in Nigeria and make them understand the importance of considering the uniqueness of each market in which they operate and not subject the Nigerian market to a “global decision”  It is only in Nigeria that airline fares are regularly increased without any corresponding increase in the quality of the services they offer on the Nigerian route. “
“It is also only in Nigeria that worldwide temporary surcharges arising from periodic fuel fluctuations are never removed from fare structures irrespective of the any changes in global fuel prices. New surcharges are constantly added but never removed. “
“This sharp practice by airlines operating in Nigeria has ensured that we have one of the highest airline costs in the world.  It is also only in Nigeria that International Airlines collude with some Financial Institutions and Courier companies to engage in the sale of tickets to the public.”

“We hereby call on the Federal Government of our great Country, Nigeria, through the regulatory bodies to urgently investigate:  Planned surcharge of 16 euro per ticket by Lufthansa, alarming rise in the cost of tickets in Nigeria, structure and composition of fares offered by International Airlines in Nigeria, possible anti-trust practices by International Airlines Operating in Nigeria, sale of Airline tickets by Financial Institutions and Courier companies.

About anthony omoh

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I am a Journalist with a passion for developmental stories and nigerianflightdeck.com was born out of passion for reporting the travel, business and aviation sub-sector. This site is an expression of my ideals and creativity as a reporter and my discretion as a publisher. I am extremely content doing this and I am sure when you read my stories you'd understand that I touch people and that's why

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