The World Travel Agents Associations Alliance, a group that includes ASTA, ACTA and other agency groups around the world, asked IATA to include representatives of the agency distribution channel on committees and task forces related to its “new distribution capability.”
The IATA initiative aims to create a new set of technology standards to allow airlines to merchandise and differentiate their products. In the course of introducing the initiative, IATA has slammed GDS companies for failing to modernize to accommodate such trends. (See story, “IATA Plans ‘New Alternatives’ to Current Distribution Technology,” June 25, 2012.)
Seeks regulatory review
In a letter to Aleks Popovich, IATA’s senior vice president of industry distribution and financial services, the agency alliance also requested that IATA seek regulatory review of its standards-setting initiative.
IATA is working with the messaging schemata declared the “industry standard” by Open AXIS, an airline group that promotes XML as the optimal method of connecting airlines with distributors, as American Airlines has sought to achieve. Those schemata were donated by Farelogix, the company that developed American’s Direct Connect technology.
Standards bodies generally submit their work to peer or regulatory review.
IATA's ‘Unique challenge’
Peter Barlow, chairman of the global agency alliance, said in a statement, “IATA has the unique challenge of developing a standard that that will not be seen by regulators as having the potential to skew the competitive process.
“We urge IATA to have its newly announced initiative reviewed by regulatory agencies to ensure the initiative is designed to produce pro-competitive standards that will benefit the entire distribution system, not just IATA’s airline members.”
Seat at the table
He added that “as the global association whose members represent more than 70% of all agency-issued tickets worldwide, it’s appropriate that WTAAA have a seat at the table.”
WTAAA also invited Popovich to speak with its members at its annual general assembly, Sept. 10 to 12, in Washington.