< PrevNext > Willie Walsh, International Airlines Group CEO Distribution Defector By Jay Boehmer / December 14, 2017 / Contact Reporter Share When British Airways and Iberia announced plans to surcharge global distribution system bookings in May, comparisons to Lufthansa Group were hard to shake. As Lufthansa did in 2015, the International Airlines Group carriers this year opted out of full content deals with GDSs, surcharged those bookings and offered direct booking alternatives for travel buyers to avoid the fee.Eyeing its moves in distribution, CEO Willie Walsh told investors in November 2016: "We are not going to model this on what anyone else has done because we are not the same as Lufthansa, for example. What they have done may have worked for Lufthansa. It is not necessarily what will work for us."With the creation of a "private channel" for select travel agencies to avoid the surcharge when booking through GDSs, IAG certainly distinguished its corporate travel distribution approach from Lufthansa's—and, for that matter, Air France-KLM, which followed IAG in announcing its own GDS surcharge.Amadeus was the first GDS to enable a private channel framework with IAG. Sabre and Travelport followed. In this model, IAG invited travel agencies to continue to transact through the GDS but spared their clients from paying 8 British pounds per fare component or a local currency equivalent.This was welcome news to travel buyers whose TMCs avoided the cost and got to preserve established processes for booking travel. Still, IAG's private channel created a bifurcated world of corporate travel distribution. While the mega TMCs and most of the largest corporate agencies in BA's home market received a private channel nod, it left other agencies that don't get such a deal at a price disadvantage. This has troubled the have-nots in the agency community.This year, Walsh said IAG was gunning for "structural change" in distribution, adding, "the nature of the relationship between GDSs and airlines is not sustainable, and we want to get that changed." The change has come.