London, UK – October 9, 2017 – American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) has reached an agreement with British Airways and Iberia that will allow companies and travelers to avoid paying a surcharge on air fares through participating GDSs.

The two airlines announced in May that from November 1 they would introduce an $10 fee for the airlines’ fare components booked in indirect channels, which includes global distribution systems (GDSs) and online booking tools (OBTs) used by travel management companies (TMCs) and their clients.

However, American Express GBT’s clients are set to enjoy access to the airlines’ content, while avoiding the additional fee, after it agreed to a multi-year deal to work with the airlines on future GDS distribution.  The agreement applies to all GDS bookings, though each GDS is required to agree to the new arrangement with the airlines. Until now, one GDS has done so, while British Airways, Iberia and American Express GBT remain in active dialogue with the others.   The agreement also applies to reservations made via American Express Travel & Lifestyle Services and through a select number of American Express GBT franchise partners.

In addition, American Express GBT, British Airways, Iberia and the GDSs will work together to evaluate how new distribution capabilities (NDC) – a technology standard developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) – could bring value to organizations using managed travel programs.

Michael Qualantone, Executive Vice President, Global Supplier Relations for American Express GBT, said: “We commend the airlines’ collaborative approach to finding a solution that meets the needs for our clients.  This agreement recognizes the value of our existing relationship, as well as future opportunities that may exist to bring value to clients and travelers using NDC.

“We continue to believe the GDS channel provides the best value to our clients and travelers, as it has the most comprehensive access to supplier content, the best pricing and shopping environment, and most cost-effective booking process. However, if there are valuable products that the GDSs can’t currently make available, it is important to explore alternative technology capabilities,” he concluded.

Stephen Humphreys, British Airways Global Head of Sales, said: “We are delighted with this agreement. It will be of great benefit to our common corporate customers.  We are pleased to have agreed a model for bookings to be made through existing platforms without any additional charge, and we hope to extend this to all customers booking through GBT.  We also look forward to working closely with American Express GBT and the GDSs on developing NDC implementation plans.”

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About American Express Global Business Travel 

American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) equips companies of all sizes with the insights, tools, services and expertise they need to keep their travelers informed, focused and productive while on the road. With approximately 12,000 employees and operations in nearly 120 countries worldwide, GBT empowers customers to take control of their travel programs, optimizing the return on their travel and meetings investments, while, more importantly, providing extraordinary traveler care.

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American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) is a joint venture that is not wholly owned by American Express Company or any of its subsidiaries (American Express). “American Express Global Business Travel,” “American Express,” and the American Express logo are trademarks of American Express and are used under limited license.

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