At this month’s UFTAA (United Federation of Travel Agents’ Associations) Congress in Manila, which ARTA Canada attended, several matters were discussed which involved consequential changes to agency rules and resolutions made by IATA at the October 7, 2008 Passenger Agency Conference (PAConf) in Geneva.
ARTA Canada has expressed concerns to UFTAA that the required IATA and airline consultation with travel agents on matters affecting Canadian travel agencies apparently did not take place. The local Agency Program Joint Council (APJC) for Canada is represented by ACTA, and on information and belief, no meeting to discuss proposed changes to the agency program and rules was convened. Accordingly, new resolutions and changes to existing resolutions were approved by IATA at PAConf without any input from those affected by them. Among the key matters decided by the airlines at PAConf, which have raised concerns were:
– Changes were made to the Travel Agency Commissioner program to “clarify” limits of jurisdiction of the Commissioner’s authority to hear and decide cases, including a revision to arbitration rules.
– Amendments were made to the Card Sales Rules to “clarify” changes authorized by a mail vote effective in June 2008 eliminating ADM disputes for chargebacks and allowing IATA to declare an agency in default in circumstances where the IATA Agency Administrator is notified by a BSP Airline of irregular activity by an agent which causes a chargeback.
– Changes were made to remove final jurisdiction on financial criteria for IATA accreditation from local APJCs and transfer such final jurisdiction to PAConf itself.
On a more positive note:
– A proposed resolution was defeated which would have included agent sales via an airline’s web site to be governed by the Passenger Sales Agency Rules and be covered by the financial protections provided by the Agency Program. The applicable reporting and remittance conditions established for a BSP country/area was also to apply to such sales. The matter has been referred back to committee.
– A resolution was passed to establish a new category of IATA accredited agent to be known as an “On-line Travel Agent,” effective January 1, 2009, which would not have any physical sales outlets and would, therefore, have no requirement criteria for premises and security.
– Changes were approved to relax agency location security requirements in various resolutions to reflect the move to 100 percent electronic ticketing.
ARTA Canada will review the detailed minutes of the October 2008 PAConf as soon as they are released and continue to progress concerns through UFTAA regarding any matters which have negative impact on Canadian agencies.
Travel agencies are reminded that they have until tomorrow, Friday, October 31, 2008 to apply for free membership in ARTA Canada. Complete details and a membership application is available online at www.artacanada.ca/joinfree .