Lufthansa takes GDS booking tumble with new surcharge, rival carriers benefit
German carrier Lufthansa is beginning to see the impact of its decision to impose a levy on all bookings made through Global Distribution Systems.
A highly confidential document obtained by Tnooz from a third party, which is supposed to be circulated only for the eyes of senior figures at Sabre Travel Network, includes a wide selection of booking data covering the weeks since the carrier introduced its controversial Euro 16 fee on all GDS bookings on September 1.
The top-line summary outlined in the document (titled “Lufthansa Group Bookings Report – September Week 2 – Sept 8-Sept 14 2015”) includes the following:
- Lufthansa Group bookings in Europe via the GDS (Sabre, Travelport and Amadeus) in the first two weeks of September are down 16.1% versus a flat year-to-date up to August. The main beneficiaries of this change are Air France, British Airways, SAS, Alitalia and United – “all are experiencing significantly higher bookings growth than YTD”.
- In segments where Lufthansa has a market of 30%-60%, share drops of up to 30% were experienced in the first week of September. Competitor carriers British Airways, Air Berlin and Air France are stated as gaining from the declines.
- Sabre’s billable bookings for the Lufthansa Group are down 15.6% in the first two weeks of September compared 10.7% growth in the year-to-date to August. Sabre has adjusted this figure to 11.5% to account for the US Labor Day break.
There is no data or analysis provided to suggest if Sabre (or other)-connected agencies are using the “direct-connect” platform created by Lufthansa to make bookings that then bypass the surcharge.
The table below outlines total European GDS bookings on leading legacy carriers for the year-to-date and first two weeks of September.
The document also outlines the impact on agency bookings, with the vast majority of Sabre’s top 25 intermediary customers seeing declines on volumes in the first two weeks of September.
Sabre’s biggest OTA customer [whose name Tnooz is leaving anonymous] had 680,000 segments booked on Lufthansa in the year-to-date. March was its biggest month of 2015 with 99,500 bookings, but the first two weeks of September have seen just 12,600 bookings made (down 55% Y/Y).
Two well-known corporate travel agencies [whose names we’re redacting] appear to be absorbing the Euro 16 far easier than their leisure counterparts with booking volumes up 34% and down 5% year-on-year for the first two weeks of September.
The document also discloses a number of routes that it believes have experienced changes in booking volumes, in particular on the competitive Frankfurt-NYC leg.
On a country-by-country basis, Lufthansa GDS booking volumes Y/Y on Sabre in the first two weeks of September have fallen dramatically from agencies in Greece (33.8%), Sweden (47.1%) and Switzerland (41.6%).
Lufthansa’s domestic Sabre agency customers have seen volumes drop by 19.9% over the same period, with Sabre’s biggest agency base of the US falling by 24.8%.
Overall, Sabre is forecasting a 11% year-on-year decline in its Lufthansa bookings for the rest of 2015.
Travelport and Amadeus both declined to comment on the figures.
Lufthansa and Sabre were invited to respond to the figures but have yet to reply to our requests.
NB: Lufthansa image via Shutterstock.
Kevin May is a senior editor and one of the co-founders at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and will be publishing his first book - a biography about electronic band, Depeche Mode - soon.