by Sarah Dawson
If you are frustrated when reading the constant back and forth between these two associations, then you are not alone. At the centre of the latest debate is a financial security measure that new agencies (new owners or changed agency status) will have to implement, as an amendment to Resolution 804.
This proposed change to Resolution 804 means that new agencies need to put in place temporary financial security amounts in the form of a letter of credit or bank guarantee for $35,000 for 2 years, rather than $25,000 for 6 months. If implemented, this will without doubt preclude the ability of some agencies to participate in or complete planned mergers and acquisitions, and this will lead to more agency closures. ARTA and ACTA are understandably worried about such events occurring.
IATA has reason to ask for additional financial security. The majority of their member airlines are losing more money than ever before, and are under pressure to keep flying expensive aircraft because there are costs associated with each aircraft whether it is in the air or not. This creates seats in the market, and someone has to sell them. Airlines are happy for agents to do so, but they do not want to be financially burdened in order to allow agents to sell their seats. Surely, this is the same argument the agents (and agent associations) should be using in return.
The reality is that ARTA and ACTA, both with paid member subscriptions, have a duty to their members to represent them and their views to IATA, or any other regulatory body, whether through the UFTAA or directly. Both have issues with the dollar amount, term and the words used in the changes to Resolution 804. On such issues, it should not be too much for members to ask that both ARTA and ACTA agree a position and lobby jointly rather than blaming the other for ignoring the issue at hand, or stealing the other’s opinions.
The latest press releases will surely find their way into the hands of officials at IATA, and at what expense? Let’s hope it is not too late for both ARTA and ACTA to step forward and address this issue as one, and help to ensure that the voices of the Canadian travel agents are heard loudly and clearly on this issue or any other in the future.