Skift reveals how the breakdown of the deal between the Lufthansa Group and Sabre signals new risks for corporate travel.
It was on 12th May that Lufthansa informed its travel agency partners that its fares would be removed from the global distribution system from 30th June.
In an email to its partners, Lufthansa said it wanted to inform them “in good time and transparently about current developments” that Sabre had terminated the distribution agreement with its airlines.
According to Skift journalist Matthew Parsons, “there has been no real explanation as to why the contract won’t be renewed, which raises several questions. There are likely commercial considerations but — in the middle of a crisis — why has no extension been sought? And what happens to unused tickets booked on Sabre after the termination date?”
Parsons goes on to say that “this dispute won’t go down well with those corporate travel agencies, or their clients, holding thousands of unused tickets, potentially worth tens of millions of dollars.”
Travel technology platform Duffel notes: “It isn’t clear whether or how Sabre users will be able to cancel, refund and change their existing bookings after 30th June.”
A Sabre spokesperson said: “The Sabre team has been working diligently with Lufthansa Group to renew their distribution agreement.
“We are committed to advocating the needs of the value chain to create opportunities that drive revenue for both airlines and buyers. At this point, Sabre and Lufthansa are actively discussing the airline group’s participation in Sabre. We remain committed to reaching an agreement with Lufthansa that fairly balances the needs of all members of the travel ecosystem.”
Skift believes that the absence of a renewal reflects Lufthansa’s push towards selling directly — although Lufthansa told the site that it wanted to reiterate Sabre cancelled the agreement, not the airline group.