Singapore Airlines plans to introduce a distribution fee for tickets issued via the GDS, making it the first Asian carrier to introduce penalties for bookings made through these channels. The surcharge will apply for tickets issued on or after January 4, 2021 in certain markets, but South Africa will not be included in the first phase of roll-out.
The fee has been set at US$12 (R200) per ticket across all routings and fare types. There will be no differentiation in fees between return, one way, interline or complex itineraries and the identical fee will be applied for adult and infant tickets alike, says Singapore Airlines. The fee will be filed and ticketed under the tax code ‘YR’ and processed automatically in GDS pricing platforms, it adds.
The airline says the fee will not apply for tickets issued via Singapore Airlines’ NDC channels, via their travel agent website, via the airline’s API channel or its group booking tool. It will also not apply to bookings made via the airline’s website, its mobile app or through a Singapore Airlines’ reservation office or call centre. A ticket issued by an agent via the GDS’s NDC channel will also not incur a distribution fee. The fee will only apply for the first ticket issuance and will not be applied again in the event of a reissuance. The fee will also not be refundable in the scenario of a voluntary refund.
The airline has warned agents from the outset that the distribution fee collection will be checked during Singapore Airlines’ audit process. In the event where the Distribution Fee is manually deleted during the ticket issuance process, the ticket is subject to an ADM, says the airline.
According to the airline, the fee will be progressively rolled out in phases across all Singapore Airlines’ points of sale. In phase one the fee will be levied on bookings created in Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland.
Market development manager for Singapore Airlines, Sally George, confirmed to Travel News that South Africa would not be included in the phase one roll-out and advised that the airline planned to introduce NDC to the South African market during the course of 2021.
Sally said legacy technology inhibited what airlines could do to support evolving operational needs and that there was a need to accelerate the adoption of newer and more advanced technology to bridge this gap.
“The introduction of a distribution fee will help Singapore Airlines to drive this objective and to facilitate better flow of information for our trade partners, which in turn improves overall customer experience,” said Sally.
“The surcharge is not trying to encourage consumers to move away from the trade towards direct online bookings. The intention is rather to encourage our trade partners to move towards a more advanced technology. As long as agents transact in the NDC channel, they will not incur a distribution fee,” she added.
Sally explained that customers were increasingly expecting personalised offers that contained a combination of products and services. She said Singapore Airlines had invested heavily in these capabilities and that fares, conditions, discounts, ancillary product and service combinations could all be adjusted based on the preferences of travellers, agents and corporations through NDC channels.
“Not only do agents earn incentives for every ancillary sold through our NDC channels, but we will also be introducing various categories of content that will be made exclusively available in the NDC channels, such as exclusive fares, personalised offers, new fare products and ancillary options,” said Sally.