The European Technology & Travel Services Association (ETTSA) has lodged a complaint against the European Commission for failure to enforce EU law over the Lufthansa surcharges.
The complaint, lodged with the European Ombudsman, calls out the EC, alleging that it “failed to act within a reasonable time limit” - it was some 30 months before a response was sent to ETTSA.
In a statement, the organisation also expresses concerns over what it describes as the EC’s view that there is no need to act as the distribution landscape has changed.
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ETTSA, whose members includes GDS companies and OTAS, says the Commission believes the EU’s Code of Conduct on computerised reservation systems “no longer reflects market reality.”
It goes on to say that the Code may be revised going forward.
Lufthansa began adding a surcharge for bookings made via the GDS back in September 2015 which ETTSA described as unfair practices and in breach of the Code of Conduct.
It filed complaints at the time with the EC but says it was not until May 2018 that the Commission provided a response.
The Code dates back to 1989 and was put in place to ensure the GDSs displayed all “air services” fairly on travel agency screens.
ETTSA however, says the EC is “abdicating its competencies” by failing to act on the current rules and undermining price transparency.
“The Commission is tacitly giving the thumbs-up to Lufthansa’s unfair conduct, which consists of weakening the effectiveness of neutral distribution channels used by consumers to compare prices of different airlines.
“The Commission’s inaction is bad for industry, bad for innovation, bad for competition, bad for the single market, and frankly bad for respect for Community law. The only winner is Lufthansa and every large airline adopting similar anticompetitive practices. Everyone else loses.”
ETTSA describes the complaint to the Ombudsman as a first step and is also calling on the competition authorities within the EC to investigate Lufthansa’s practices as well as those of other carriers.
Last November British Airways and sister carrier Iberia began levying fees on bookings not made via an NDC-led connection and in April, Air France began imposing its own surcharge.
ETTSA says that a number of members of the European Parliament are backing consumers on this issue and saying the law must be enforced.
Lufthansa declined to comment.