American Airlines Withdraws Travelport
Booking Source Premium Surcharges
ARTA Canada's Efforts: Timely and Effective
Toronto, 17 February 2011: Canada's Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA Canada) voiced approval and support for American Airlines' decision to withdraw plans to surcharge Travelport GDS international users (Galileo and Worldspan), including those in Canada, with a Booking Source Premium fee. No bookings of American Airlines/American Eagle flight segments made using the Travelport GDSs will attract the Booking Source Premium, and no Agency Debit Memos (ADMs) for the Booking Source Premium will be issued. The surcharge was intended to help AA recover the increased costs levied on AA by Travelport for bookings.
ARTA Canada and ARTA (U.S.) met with AA distribution and sales officials in December 2010 to share their concerns about the dispute between AA and Travelport, including the surcharges to which many travel agents in Canada would have been subjected. AA was responsive to these concerns, and AA's action yesterday to remove the surcharges, before they were even collected, is testimony to the effectiveness of open and constructive dialogue.
"We are very pleased that AA was attentive to our concerns and that agents are removed from the middle of a distribution policy dispute which would have had serious financial consequences for our Travelport-enabled members. We will continue dialogue with AA as we endeavor to assure that travel agents will benefit from all distribution and booking options available in marketplace, including AA's Direct Connect product which ARTA Canada and ARTA fully support", said ARTA Canada President Bruce Bishins, CTC.
ARTA Canada also gave credit to the United Federation of Travel Agents' Associations (UFTAA), the efforts of which were also instrumental in positioning the industry's concerns about the surcharges, particularly the surcharge collection process. In a statement issued by UFTAA yesterday, the global association thanked AA for the positive change in Booking Source Premium policy which resulted in its withdrawal. ARTA Canada is the Canadian member of UFTAA.
While this welcome development appears to put to rest the surcharge matter, AA went on to advise agencies of its concerns that Travelport imposed a "punitive tactic, misrepresenting American’s fares in its GDS by adding an estimate of the Booking Source Premium as a 'tax' owed by customers. Travelport’s actions created tremendous confusion in the market and hurt our travel agency partners, and our customers."
AA further advised agencies that "if Travelport continues to misuse its market position to impose punitive rates, American may be forced to reinstitute the Booking Source Premium and/or remove some or all of its content from Travelport GDSs".
ARTA Canada will continue to monitor the situation and engage AA in ongoing discussions on these and other distribution matters.
About ARTA Canada
ARTA Canada is the largest non-profit federally incorporated professional association of travel retailers in Canada, the members of which consist exclusively of travel agencies and travel agents. In addition to advocating fair and equitable treatment of travel consumers, ARTA Canada represents the commercial and strategic interests of its member travel agencies and travel agents in a variety of national and provincial domains including regulatory and legislative matters, automation, technology, sales and marketing, and distribution.
ARTA Canada is the strategic partner in Canada of the U.S.-based Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA). ARTA Canada is the Canadian member of UFTAA, the United Federation of Travel Agents' Associations. For complete details about ARTA Canada's new $99 membership campaign or to join ARTA Canada, including secure payment on our web site, please visit www.artacanada.ca/join.