ACTA Continues to Mislead Travel Agents
About "Hidden" Airline Fees
ACTA's "One Size Fits All" Passenger Protection Plans
Will Hurt Canada's Airline Industry
Toronto, 28 April 2011: Canada's Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA Canada) blasted yet another misleading "hidden fee" missive from the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) which continues to misrepresent the reality of airline ancillary fees and charges.
Touting its membership in the "Open Allies for Air Fare Transparency", ACTA continued to allege in a press release last week that travel agents, consumers, and managed travel programs cannot compare full fares and fees because new U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) rules fail to require same.
However, the DOT does not buy ACTA's "transparency" argument and specifically chose not to rule on such fare and fee displays, citing a lack of information and a concern for "unintended consequences" that would not be in the public interest by forcing airlines to provide such data to GDSs. The DOT also stated that it does not want to interfere with airline/GDS negotiations.
Despite ACTA's rhetoric, the fact remains that many tools already in the marketplace provide the very fare and fee comparisons which ACTA claims is not available. More importantly, these tools continue to grow in number and content because new technology has given airlines an affordable price point to include this data - a price structure which most all legacy GDSs are unwilling to offer.
"The handwriting is on the wall, and nothing ACTA says is going to erase it. GDSs are out-of-step with the needs of both travel agents and airlines because the GDSs are too top-heavy to reduce their oppressive industry fees and improve their data handling and connectivity. Agents will continue to experience ever-widening gaps as content slowly, but surely, shifts out of the GDS channel and into alternative agency distribution platforms. ACTA wants to preserve the status quo at a time when airlines are developing more direct connect relationships with travel agents and the innovative technology companies which empower them. ACTA's blindness to the new realities of travel distribution is clearly the result of its insatiable dependence on partnership revenues from the legacy GDSs, most notably Sabre", said ARTA Canada President Bruce Bishins, CTC.
ARTA Canada, an early supporter and allied member of the Open AXIS Group, says ACTA's relentless assault on Direct Connect does nothing more than propagate the very myths that the legacy GDSs use to cloud the expansion of a new, more intimate relationships which airlines are seeking with travel agents, and the many benefits which are part of the Direct Connect and Distribution 2.0 initiative. ARTA Canada has posted a brief video on its web site to help agents better understand the core aspects of these programs. Please visit: www.artacanada.ca/D2.0.
In a related DOT regulatory matter, ACTA President David McCaig states that he intends on pressing the Canadian Government to match the new passenger protection rules enacted by the U.S. DOT.
"McCaig obviously doesn't understand the airline industry in Canada, nor does he appreciate the functional and commercial differences between airline operations in Canada versus the USA. Punishing airlines in Canada for some limited high profile irregular situations in the USA is not the way to protect passengers, nor enable Canada's airline community to deal with our unique flying environment. There are too many cost differences, overlapping regulations, and other variances to use a "one size fits all" approach to improving passenger rights and expectations. ACTA is doing a gross disservice to the airlines which operate in Canada", added Bishins.
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). 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.