The Lufthansa Group has distributed a statement to its trade partners advising them that GDS Sabre has terminated its distribution agreement with the airline group with effect from June 30.
As the situation currently stands, this could mean that agents using Sabre may no longer be able to sell Lufthansa Group fares through the GDS from July 1. It is unclear how users will be able to cancel, refund and change existing bookings thereafter.
The termination will affect all airlines in the group including Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa, SWISS and Brussels Airlines. GDS Abacus will also be affected, says Lufthansa.
International media have speculated that the announcement may be a Lufthansa negotiation tactic driven by the airline group’s strategy to decrease its indirect distribution channel costs.
Locally, several agents have agreed with this theory. An anonymous agent told Travel News that it was inconceivable that fares for a major airline group would be pulled from a global distribution system just at the time when airlines needed assistance from agents to restart the aviation industry.
Lufthansa Group announced plans this week to reinstate 1 800 weekly flights to 130 destinations by the end of June.
Club Travel’s franchise director, Jo Fraser, told Travel News that she understood that the agreement between the two parties was always expected to expire on June 30. “The latest update that we have received from Sabre is that negotiations on the new contract are still under way and are going well,” said Jo.
“The Lufthansa Group is open to constructive, solution-oriented discussions and is engaged in amicable talks with Sabre in the interest of Sabre and Abacus users. Beyond that, however, the Lufthansa Group of airlines continues to work on making the distribution of flight tickets more innovative, attractive and more customer-oriented. Nevertheless we are currently evaluating alternatives and will provide you with the best possible support,” said the Lufthansa Group in a statement.
Travel News contacted Sabre for more information about what the termination of the contract would mean for Sabre agents locally but had not heard back at time of publication.
Farelogix deal falls through
In November 2018 Sabre entered into a US$360m (R1,5bn) deal to acquire tech-company Farelogix, which it described as a means to accelerate its strategy to speed the industry toward end-to-end NDC-enabled capabilities. However, after the US Department of Justice failed to block the deal last year, a decision by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority prevented it from going ahead last month and Sabre formally withdrew from the deal on May 1.