ARC issued a statement in response to Travel Agent’s report on ARTA’s concern with the antitrust meaning of ARC’s new Helix membership program.
"ARC strongly refutes ARTA's statement that the Helix membership program may possibly violate antitrust regulations. Helix is not an extension or any way related to ARC's settlement system, and only creates relationships with non-carrier suppliers so that carrier sales information has no bearing," ARC said. "Furthermore, a Business Review Letter issued by the Department of Justice, Antitrust Division at ARC's inception in 1984 does not prohibit ARC from entering into any new business areas; it relates solely to ARC's reporting and settlement operations and finds them consistent with U.S. antitrust law.
"The Helix membership program opens doors for small to mid-size travel agencies for whom other market alternatives do not meet their needs (e.g., program content, price point, and minimum volume thresholds.) Helix is also consistent with ARC's previous service offerings to assist a travel agency's business growth, such as the ARC Travel Agent Service Fee Program, and ARC Marketplace," ARC continued. "There is no mandate for an ARC-accredited entity to participate in Helix, or a Helix Member not to utilize other agency groups for non-Helix suppliers' commissionable products. As ARC's TASF service, which was created over a decade ago, Helix enhances competition by adding another option in the marketplace."
The Helix program is aimed at helping travel agencies be more successful and competitive by combining exclusive content, services, education, and training under the ARC umbrella, according to the company. The program is scheduled to launch on February 15.