BTN's annual answer book for business travel managers.
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Effective Nov. 7, Scandinavian Airlines will impose a 1.96 percent surcharge in 15 European countries on bookings settled through corporate payment mechanisms like corporate or lodge cards. American Express, Diners Club, Mastercard, Visa and Universal Air Travel Plan corporate customers all will be affected.
"The rationale is that the majority of airlines are charging this fee, so we are following market practice," a spokeswoman said. When the European Union's revised Payment Services Directive, or PSD2, banned surcharges on Visa and Mastercard consumer cards in January 2018, some carriers opted to introduce or retain surcharges on corporate payments. British Airways introduced a 1 percent surcharge, while Air France-KLM opted for 2 percent and Norwegian Air 3 percent.
However, the picture is complicated by different interpretations of PSD2 in certain countries. Some ban surcharges on corporate as well as consumer cards. SAS will not, for example, introduce the corporate card surcharge in Sweden, one of its three home markets, or in France.
Following the introduction of the Interchange Fee Regulation in 2015, card companies in the EU can charge airlines and other merchants much higher fees for corporate payments than is allowed for consumer cards. "This is effectively an increase in the cost of buying an air ticket for business," said Soeren Schoedt, managing director of Denmark-based travel buying consortium TravelpoolEurope. "It ends up being treated on the ticket as tax, and you don't get a discount in your corporate deals on taxes, which typically account for around one-third of the total ticket price."
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