AFTA View – March 2013

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Jason WestburyTalking with airlines to ensure NDC works for the whole industry

By Jay Westbury, chief executive Australian Federation
of Travel Agents


I AM very well aware of concern among travel agents about the ramifications of IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) and the potential for airlines to access agents’ client data and possibly lure business to their own websites.

But I am pleased to report that meetings continue between the agent and airline bodies – albeit detail is yet to be released as IATA works with a number of technology and airline partners to undertake pilot programs and to test much of the clever parts of what is hoped to come out of the NDC.

There are a series of meetings being held this month in Europe and I will be taking part in some of them and I can assure all travel agents in Australia that concerns will be addressed.

Issues that have been identified will be raised during these meetings to ensure travel agents are being taken seriously and their role considered in the plans going forward – not only on issues of how airline product is to be distributed, but also on the processes for integrating the new technologies into travel agency businesses.

I hope to be able to provide more detail after these March meetings. The good thing is that AFTA maintains a seat on the global discussion on this issue.

• With this month’s appointment of Gary O’Riordan as general manager-accreditation, AFTA has taken an important step forward in its plans for a new accreditation scheme.

Gary is known to many in the travel and tourism industry for his years of service to the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) and his knowledge and skills in developing and delivering accreditation schemes is vast.

His first tasks will be to commence the important work of consulting with the travel industry and framing the accreditation criteria.

We have got a slow process to go through and for now I have little by way of important updates to provide but Gary’s appointment will enable us to put some real meat on the bones as the various working groups do their work on the detail of the grand plan.

Of course all this is taking place against a background of political ferment – with a change of Premier in Victoria, the re-election of the Coalition Government in Western Australia and a federal election due on September 14.

Importantly for the travel industry the result in WA leaves in place the support for the reform and transition of travel industry plan.

We will still need to establish if the WA Government plans on doing anything in particular that is specific to WA, but at least we can forge ahead with the transitional arrangements.

The dynamics of the current political landscape do make for interesting reading and, as many of you know, I love every minute of the “mini-series” that unfolds nightly on TV.

But for the travel industry the change of Premier in Victoria and the re-election of Premier Barnett in WA will have little to no impact on the plans being put into action by the Travel Industry Transition Plan.

Jay Westbury’s AFTA View column appears monthly.