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‘‘Reconstitute APJC-India with nine member from airlines and nine from agents with equitable representation’’

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Supreme Court verdict on transaction fees and commissions is not being implemented. What is IAAI’s approach to sort this issue?

Biji Eapen

IAAI is trying to enforce implementation of agency commission as a statutory right under the Indian Aircraft Act of 1934 and Rules 1937 with the uppermost Indian Regulatory Authority and Court of Law. We are focusing on the DGCA order dated March 5, 2010 and December 17, 2012, Supreme Court order dated January 23, 2013, Writ Petition WP(C)No 275/2013 pending at Kerala High Court and the Appeal Petition with Secretary, ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) under Rule 3B of Aircraft Act of India filed by Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA). As the situation with the secretary of MoCA is unpredictable, IAAI had filed an appeal in February and FIA had filed their rejoinder on April 17, 2012.

Meanwhile, MoCA has unbundled the airline services by airlines to charge on baggage, preferred seat reservation, food, etc. It may be a silent move to counter our commission issue but it is interesting to note that transportation of passenger baggage, like the agents commission is a statutory right for a travelling passenger and its transportation charges are already included in the fare as defined in the Aircraft Rules 1937. Hence, we don’t find any hurdles for implementing commission. IAAI directly and through our legal counsel, had approached secretary of MoCA for an earliest hearing.

What are the measures needed to educate agents on APJC? What are the issues and way forward?

Majority of agents still believe that Agency Promotion Joint Council (APJC) is only a dummy body whereas, it is responsible for the formulation of Agency Sales Programmes in each country. The need of the hour is to educate the agents and leaders on APJC, its scope, authority, functioning and terms on anti-trust law. Agents must be familiarised with IATA Res 810i, 818g, 800f, 800x, 820e, 824,832,850m and 878 enable them to conduct self-assessment and evaluation on the accountability and legality on the implementation of zero commission and transaction fee, procedural failures in application on financial guarantee systems, ADMs, TAP including the impending weekly payments. It should be an eye opener for agents to review their miseries, realise the realities. Accordingly let them suggest remedial requirements and allow the APJC-India to be responsible to reverse the ‘weekly payment’ back to fortnightly or even monthly, since the authority of altering or reversal on frequency of remittance period is wholly vested within APJC under the ambit of IATA Res 818g limited to 800x.

Apart from the commission issue, what are the other critical issues affecting the industry?

Agents community is controlled by certain vested interests. Many agents are still ignorant on travel agents handbook. Hence, many a times, IATA rules and regulations are misinterpreted to suit the situation. Ordinary agents are getting carried away with foreign conventions, FAM trips and five-star parties.

Please highlight some of the important IATA resolutions which travel agents need to be apprised of before they approach the government on issues affecting the industry?

Since all these issues – transaction fee, TAP (airlines authority to appoint their agents) ADMs, stringent financial guarantee including weekly payment are not the concern of one airline alone but the concern the whole industry, it will be easier to achieve these objectives only through a strong, self-willed APJC-India Group, which has to be expanded to 18 as warranted in 818g. Hence, reconstitute APJC-India with nine members from airlines and nine from agents with equitable representation of TAAI, TAFI and IAAI so that we can all speak in one voice.

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