ARTA Praises AA Decision on Surcharge

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.

ARTA Canada said 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.

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, ARTA said.

"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.

ARTA Canada also credited the United Federation of Travel Agents' Associations (UFTAA), for efforts positioning the industry's concerns about the surcharges, particularly the surcharge collection process.

ARTA Canada reports that 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, ARTA Canada said 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,” according to ARTA Canada’s report.

ARTA Canada also said that 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 said it will continue to monitor the situation and engage AA in ongoing discussions on these and other distribution matters.

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