BATM takes a hard line against extra costs imposed by the Lufthansa Group on business travellers and companies.
After Europe modified the interchange fee caps to 0.3% for personal credit card transactions, many airlines adjusted their credit card fees for the purchase of plane tickets accordingly. The Lufthansa Group also followed suit, but only for consumers. Business travellers still pay a 1.65% surcharge per ticket, regardless of the frequency or number of tickets. The group earns millions from Belgian companies in this way. “Unacceptable,” says BATM president Pascal Struyve.
The introduction of additional fees for credit card payments has always attracted a great deal of criticism in the aviation sector. For years, many low-cost carriers managed to get away with misleading advertising in this way. Passengers almost seemed able to fly for free, until the surcharge for payment by credit card became apparent. Extra fees of 25 euros per ticket were not exceptional. Europe put an end to this practice with the introduction of the new interchange fees: instead of being able to charge 2% per ticket, a “cap” of 0.3% became the norm for credit card transactions.
In most cases, airlines changed their credit card fees accordingly. For the airlines belonging to the Lufthansa Group, however, this change only applied to leisure travellers. Business travellers, and consequently the companies they work for, are still faced with this extra fee. This is because interchange fees only protect consumers, not businesses.
Lufthansa Group puts travel managers’ backs against the wall
“It is unacceptable that the Lufthansa Group continues to pass on credit card fees to corporate clients,” says Pascal Struyve, president of BATM, the Belgian Association for Travel Managers. “While other groups and airlines have dropped the fees for all passengers, the Lufthansa Group is penalising those passengers whose loyalty it should be seeking. It is completely insane that leisure travellers who fly to Tenerife with Brussels Airlines once a year do not have to pay extra fees, while business travellers who go to Frankfurt every two weeks have to cough up 26 times 1.65% of the ticket price.”
Moreover, the additional fees for credit card payments are not open to discussion in negotiations between travel managers or companies and the airlines. “The Lufthansa Group also benefits from its strong position in Brussels. Many of the flights departing from Brussels Airport belong to the Lufthansa Group. Companies simply can’t get round them. The travel managers have their backs against the wall, so to speak.”
“It is unacceptable that the Lufthansa Group continues to pass on credit card fees to corporate clients”
Traditional distribution model under pressure
Business travellers represent a significant proportion of the turnover for many airlines. Recently, however, the airlines’ traditional distribution model has been placed under considerable pressure. Efforts are therefore being made to find ways to make distribution cheaper and to recover certain costs from (business) travellers. For example, players such as the Lufthansa Group only offer certain tickets and prices through their direct booking channels. In this way, they try to bind clients to them directly, resulting in more data and more opportunities for personalisation.