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AFTA Update

Tuesday 29 October - News from the recent IATA Passenger Agency Conference, Geneva

For those travel agencies in Australia who continue to hold IATA accreditation and if the numbers speak to this, they continue to decline, last week IATA held its annual Passenger Agency Conference (referred to as PAConf) in Geneva.

A small group of agency reps attended the event which is for those who are in the program an important event as it is the annual decision making conference when a collection of airlines who chose to turn up make important decisions about a range of subjects and rules that impact upon the way the IATA travel agency program works and how the agreement between travel agents and the airlines via IATA are administered. As with each year the event carried a number of curious and perhaps important outcomes. Let me highlight a few key topics.

First, resolution 830d was a subject of considerable debate. This IATA resolution relates to the requirement for travel agents to provide contact details (email and mobile numbers) of consenting customers but for the specific purpose of the airlines use for operational disruption. I am sure it comes as no surprise to anyone reading this, but the global agency community provided IATA with a large range of examples of where this resolution has been breached by airlines and by way of the airline using the contact details for marketing and sales purposes. A clear breach of the resolution. As a result, and thank goodness for clear thinking a working group has been formed including agents, airlines and IATA to amend the resolution to enshrine better and clearer language as to the allowable usage.

I think it is generally agreed that travellers want to be contacted when there is operational disruption – but it’s a hot topic and I expect we will have a reformed resolution by next year. Secondly, a hot topic related to the introduction of new forms of payment under the IATA Transparency in Payments program known as TIP (I think it is only the Australians that get the funny side of that name). To that end both MasterCard and Diners card have announced new and innovative payment methods that comply with the IATA rules.

I expect that there will be some very new and exciting announcements coming soon as to how these new products will be introduced into Australia. Let’s just hope that in the spirit of modernisation, airlines see a way to accept these new concepts and payment types. On a final note, the PAConf Chairman Chris Gilbey who has served as the PAConf Chairman for the past 18 years hung up his boots and stepped down with retirement in mind. For those that have been around IATA matters you would know just how much value Gilbey has brought to the IATA passenger program over all these years and the WTAAA ensured that we acknowledged his service during the PAConf agenda.

So all in all a busy PAConf, with several other impactful decisions taken that continue to we hope, improve the processes and program that serves both agency and airlines.