In January, American air carriers will cease to accept dollars as payment from customers in Germany — a move that makes that country fall in step with its neighbors, but has some travel agents fearing that the fall of the greenback against the euro may result in pricier tickets.

“It’s simply cost-efficient,” said Günter Müller, who manages the German office of the International Air Transport Association, the airlines’ trade organization.

“We can save money for the American carriers,” he said.

But Müller said the change shouldn’t impact the customer. They can still pay in dollars if a travel agency chooses to accept them. The agency would just have to pay the airline in euros. Müller said that’s standard practice everywhere else in the world anyway, and that Germany is late in joining up.

But with so many Americans living in Germany, the airline association had allowed agencies to sell in dollars.

Germany’s ABC Travel Service took advantage of that to attract American business, even to the point of accepting checks, in dollars, from U.S. troops.

“It was a specific market: the military market,” said Herbert Blesinger, who heads the ABC chain. “Now it’s finished.”

Blesinger expects the price of tickets back to the United States via American carriers to rise 15 percent to 20 percent when they are converted to a euro rate, depending on the airline.

“The dollar is very low,” Blesinger said. “Automatically the price goes higher.”

Blesinger said the change hurts his office directly, too, because he’ll have to handle money differently. He can’t give U.S. cash to the airlines anymore, so he’ll have to interact more with banks if he wants to take dollars.

“What we are working on right now is to accept dollars, convert to euro and pay the carriers in euro,” he said. “But it’s a risk.”

The reason is the chance of a dollar drop in between the time the customer pays and ABC visits the bank to convert those dollars into euros.

Conversion could also take more from American customers who pay with credit cards, one agency manager worried.

“When the customer pays with a credit card, it will automatically be converted,” said Helga Bernd, who manages the SatoTravel office at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. But the airline will also have converted its U.S.-set prices to euros for sale to customers in Germany, meaning two conversions.

“I’d assume that with the high euro-dollar exchange rate, it will have a negative impact in pricing,” Bernd said.

She also assumes the change is a response on the airlines’ part to the low value of the dollar.

However,a spokeswoman for the International Air Transport Association’s executive office in Geneva, said the change is only an internal one.

“It’s the way in which we do our business,” she said. “It’s back-office-type changes, not front-office-type changes.”

She also said Germany’s special situation was at odds with the rest of the industry.

“IATA favors standardization,” she said. “We try to work as much as possible in an [European Union]-type spirit.

“It’s to make things simpler and better. We don’t make changes for change’s sake.”

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now