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ARTA Seeks Dialogue with United Airlines

July 24, 2009 By: George Dooley

The Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA) and ARTA Canada have jointly written to Dave Myrick, United Airlines' vice president of sales for the Americas, seeking to “open constructive dialogue in the matter of United's shift of credit card merchant status”  to various travel agents. "We feel it's important to speak with each other, not at each other, to identify the specific issues and work collaboratively to solve them," said Pat Funk, executive director of ARTA.

The two associations said they were prompted by United's overtures to enter into discussions with the travel agency community to determine if there are viable and mutually acceptable solutions to address the challenges of distribution and payment costs facing United and travel agents.

"Addressing this matter along with our U.S. counterpart in a sit-down with United will be essential in sharing the concerns of Canadian travel agencies which fear the credit card policy may eventually cross into Canada," said Bruce Bishins, president of ARTA Canada. "We wish to work with United in any way we can to achieve a satisfactory result which will benefit both agents and the carrier."

ARTA and ARTA Canada have put together a combined working group of U.S. and Canadian travel agency representatives, ready to meet with United as soon as possible on behalf of the travel agency community-at-large on both sides of the border, the groups said.

Earlier this week, ARTA flied a complaint with the Department of Transportation (DOT) and  requested a rulemaking investigation of the “discriminatory airline credit card policy” of United. ARTA also asked the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) to state its position on the issue. Alexander Anolik, ARTA’s general counsel, charged United with trying to bypass, if not eliminate, agents so that United could deal directly with consumers.

ARTA is headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ and is the strategic partner of Canadian-based ARTA Canada. For more information contact Pat Funk, ARTA's executive director, at 1-800-969-6069 or by e-mail to [email protected].

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