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Can ASATA assist with supplier lobbying?

This is a challenging issue for us. Travel agents have commercial agreements in place with suppliers. We are not involved in your commercial agreements. In fact, we cannot get involved in your commercial agreements because ultimately the association cannot be seen to be attempting to influence specific commercial policies. It would look as if we were colluding or working collectively on one particular outcome. Having said that though we have recognised that there have been tremendous challenges with the airlines in particular.

Many of the airlines have been incredibly proactive and have put in place flexible change and cancellation policies. They’ve also been very good at communicating the processes to follow. However, we are becoming increasingly aware that the airlines are quite erratic in terms of decision-making. The policies are being changed on a daily basis. This is exhausting and incredibly difficult for travel agents to manage.

Airlines need to – on a day-to-day basis – reassess their business position and understand what steps they need to take to safeguard their airline businesses and hopefully ensure that they too survive this and come out on the other end.

When it comes to the airline space, our primary point of contact is IATA, and we have been working very closely with them. We held an extraordinary meeting where the global agent community engaged with IATA and the airline representatives on a number of issues, including the inconsistencies and lack of access to airlines when it comes to their policies and changes.

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