The Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA) and ARTA Canada voiced opposition to a plan by GDS Galileo, Apollo, and Worldspan-owner Travelport to modify system fare displays for American Airlines' flights.
“Travelport allegedly implies that it was AA which requested to include the proposed Booking Source Premium Surcharges (imposed by AA in various countries on certain Travelport GDS subscribers) in Travelport GDS fare displays, however, AA denies having made any such request,” ARTA said.
ARTA and ARTA Canada have been in an ongoing dialogue with AA as the situation between the carrier and Travelport has deteriorated, the associations said.
“For its part, AA has told the associations that Travelport took it upon itself, without prior notice to AA, to not only plan increases to fare amounts by the surcharge value in Travelport GDS displays, but to automatically include the surcharge in the total paid at the time of ticketing through the use of the IATA TFC (Tax, Fee, Charge) code 'YY,'“ ARTA said. “The result is that the consumer will automatically be forced to pay the surcharge upon ticket purchase. In addition, impacted Travelport GDS users will find themselves in an uncompetitive position when their AA fares are higher compared to other GDS user agencies and even on AA.com."
Both ARTA and ARTA Canada expressed "grave concerns" that a GDS provider could change a carrier's fare unilaterally, forcing consumer payments up. The associations said Travelport might be exceeding its authority by essentially forcing agents to pass along the surcharge to potential customers.
“If Travelport is truly concerned about the impact of AA's surcharge on travel agencies and consumers, as Travelport continues to claim in its communications, the actions by Travelport to force the surcharge onto consumers and to force travel agencies to deal with the added work of accounting and reconciliation belie that claim,” ARTA said. “Travelport should cease any attempt to bias its system against AA and consumers, and, instead, find an alternative which would not put all its subscriber agencies into the middle of Travelport's dispute with AA.
ARTA proposed a potential alternative: “As the surcharge imposed by AA is only a fraction of the huge increase allegedly imposed by Travelport on AA, one possible alternative solution would be for Travelport to absorb the surcharge and indemnify its subscribers from paying same. Travelport will already be enriching itself with much higher booking fees from AA. It can certainly afford to defend both.”
ARTA said both associations would welcome hearing Travelport's point of view and has has extended an invitation to Gordon Wilson, Travelport president, for a meeting to discuss the issues.