ARTA Breaks Ranks Over DOT Rules, Seeks New Platform.

The Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA) and ARTA Canada are breaking rank over the new Department of Transportation (DOT) airline passenger rules. According to both organizations, the DOT’s decision to defer any action to require airlines to provide ancillary fee data to GDSs underscores the position that travel agents must explore and evaluate alternative distribution and booking tools.

“The two associations have long held [the belief] that governments will not force air carriers to provide ancillary fee data to GDSs, as such a requirement would interfere with the carriers' ability to negotiate better overall terms with distribution companies,” ARTA said in a statement.

“ARTA and ARTA Canada have repeatedly stated that the traditional GDS model continues to limit functionality, content, and agent profitability by continually placing travel agent subscribers in the middle of all too frequent airline/GDS disagreements and product presentation disputes,” ARTA said.

“Airlines want better terms, better display criteria and better product differentiation and are actively seeking new, more cost-efficient platforms to distribute their products and services via the travel agency sales channel,” ARTA said.

“Other agency groups hung their hopes on the supposition that the government would step in and mandate the delivery of this data,” said ARTA Canada President and ARTA Managing Director, Bruce Bishins. “We knew from the start that this would be wishful thinking and that agents needed to start exploring those distribution platforms with which airlines were collaborating. We feel vindicated in being among the few agency voices that could see beyond the rhetoric and engage support for new, more content-rich platforms. The DOT said it won't intervene, and we never expected that it would."

ARTA said that while the DOT did enact some rules to make fees more transparent and more visible in the earlier stages of the booking process, “both at carriers and via travel agencies, the full deployment of ancillary fees across all booking channels remains a negotiation between distribution companies and airlines.”

ARTA and ARTA Canada said they will continue to support those tools and platforms which offer agents more robust content “and which adopt the Open AXIS Group Distribution 2.0 initiative.

The two associations said they applauded the recent agreement between Delta Air Lines and Farelogix to provide an Airlines Reporting Corporation-enabled booking option to sell and settle the complete array of Delta's products and service.


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