AFTA view: July 2018

Jayson Westbury, chief executive AFTA

Last month, IATA held its 74th Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit in Sydney. It was a very well attended event and brought with it some very interesting debates and discussions on a range of global aviation matters.

Curiously, and somewhat disappointingly, there was no discussion about indirect distribution or travel agents. From my perspective, this was a missed opportunity as travel agents remain extremely relevant and important to the on-going successful viability of airlines across the globe. Nevertheless, the event was still a very big success and has been well received across the industry and in fact the globe.

The aviation industry has been described by the senior leadership of IATA for several years now as a ‘force for good’ and when you look to the numbers perhaps that is a sign: this year will be the 9th consecutive year that the global airlines have been in profit, and it is estimated that in 2018, the IATA airlines will make US$33 billion in profit. They will also carry some 4.3 billion passengers which is a lot of people moving all over the world and does support the ‘force for good’ label.

Within the agency community globally IATA is in the middle of rolling out the NewGenISS. This new arrangement brings with it substantive changes to IATA accredited agents, but also without question places a further squeeze on all travel agents here in Australia and across the world, as credit provided by the BSP airlines will be controlled with a razor sharp approach.

For the first time IATA agents, including consolidators, will have a weekly credit limit applied to their BSP sales and will have to manage this far more closely than ever before. At this stage it is planned for Australia to move to the new arrangements later this year and from the reports that have been provided to IATA at a global level from those countries who were implemented in wave 1, things don’t look so good.

A number of significant issues have occurred in markets in wave 1, from Canada to Norway, and the global agency community has rallied together to get assurances from IATA that these operational issues can be rectified.

One could ask of course, how some of the issues that have occurred were allowed to happen in the first place. Discussions with IATA about the roll out of NewGenISS have been going on for years and the agency community has provided an enormous amount of intelligence and feedback to support IATA in the hope that the roll out would go well.

From my perspective, that has not been the case and all eyes are now on IATA to see if they can get the problems resolved and ensure a smooth transition for the markets in which the new resolution will be applied.