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Thursday, 27 September, 2018, 11 : 30 AM [IST]

International travel association heads caution Indian agents on pitfalls of IATA’s NewGen ISS programme

As the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is all set to roll out the New Generation of IATA Settlement Systems (NewGen ISS) in India from October 1, 2018, leaders of the industry associations globally have cautioned the Indian travel agencies to be cautious about many pitfalls hidden in the new Billing Settlement System (BSP).

Participating in the Annual TAFI convention forum which is in session in Abu Dhabi, leaders of travel industry from various countries and regions raised their voice against the way the new programme has been implemented in some markets.

"IATA is not 100% ready. That is the problem," said Datuk Hamza Rahmat, Executive Director, Federation of ASEAN Travel Associations (FATA). The programme has been implemented in Singapore and the experience of the trade was not encouraging, he said. Because of lack of preparedness on the part of IATA, agents' businesses are adversely affected too, he said. Hamzah alleged that IATA has always been playing the "divide and rule" policy in the region. He said that when an agent gets accredited into the system of IATA, he becomes a partner in the business. Ironically, IATA does not treat partners as equal stakeholders, he said. Talking about the drastic changes that have happened in the industry, he said that today agents have a choice whether to remain an IATA member or not.

Sharing the Canada market experience since the roll out of NewGen ISS in March, and also the first country to switch to the system, a leading travel agent from Canada at the forum said that business of a large number of agencies were adversely impacted in the very first week of the introduction of the new system. It can affect all the businesses in ticketing irrespective of their size. The challenge is more for those who do group business, she said.

The moderator of the forum, Michel de Blust, Secretary General, European Travel Agents' and Tour Operators' Associations, observed that despite a sharp fall in the number of accredited agents in various regions, IATA is making the relationship complex for them. He said that the number of accredited agents in Europe has dropped from 25,000 few years ago to around 18,000 today.

Defending IATA and the new system, Rodney D Cruz, Assistant Director, Passenger & Cargo Services - India Nepal and Bhutan, IATA, assured the participants that the new system would not block the authority of agents to book tickets at any point of time. Allaying the fears and apprehensions, Dcruz said that even if the remittance holding capacity is exceeded and the agency's financial security is downgraded, their form of payment mode in cash might get disabled. But still they may be able to book tickets on the system using EasyPay or credit card options.

He added that the ticketing authority of agencies would not be curtailed even for the reason of accumulated irregularities in the new regime.
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