AFTA view

Jayson Westbury, chief executive AFTA gives us his perspective on credit cards, which continue to dominate discussion within the travel industry.

Jayson Westbury, chief executive AFTA

Credit cards continue to dominate discussion within the travel industry but for two very different reasons.

First is the credit card surcharging rules that have now been in place for 12 months and the issue these new rules can create for travel agents and more broadly travel companies if they are not adhered to fully.

In recent times the ACCC brought an action against a car rental company in the Federal Court and won the case for what was deemed “excessive” credit card surcharging.

The new rules are in fact relatively simply to follow. In short, a credit card surcharge for a particular card type cannot exceed the actual cost of acceptance of that card type.

AFTA has done a great deal of work on this subject with members and you will find plenty of information on the AFTA website about how to approach this. We are always available to assist and guide if there remains any confusion about this.

The second, and from my perspective the more significant issue around credit cards, was the change this year to IATA resolution 890 which allows travel agents to use a credit card issued in the name of the agency in the BSP as a form of payment with the consent of the airline (each individual airline needs to consent to each individual agent).

What is disappointing is that many airlines have been swift to push out policies giving a blanket ‘no’ to the use of the agents’ cards. This reform formed a significant part of the changes made to the IATA BSP program (NewGenISS). The new resolution brings in changes that were meant to be win-win for both agents and airlines. Yet these changes to Resolution 890 have been quickly batted away by many airlines.

NewGenISS is due to come into effect in the Australian market sometime later this year and without the option of the agent card being usable I do not see the package that was agreed upon really working.

Given the credit card surcharge rules that are in place in Australia, I fail to see how airlines can differentiate between a customer card and an agent’s card if the surcharge is applied.

An airline would be well within their legal rights to indicate that agents’ cards can be used, provided the surcharge is paid by them. This would allow agents to manage their businesses the way they want to manage them, and use the credit card as a tool. It is why the global agency advocacy group, WTAAA, spent two years ensuring that the Resolution 890 changes formed a fundamental part of the NewGenISS package.

I hope that as the NewGenISS does get rolled out in the Australian market, those responsible within the respective airlines have another think about the benefits that will flow to them should they reconsider their approach to the use of credit cards in the name of an agency.


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