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We are a group of travel agents who together constitute a large slice of the Indian travel fraternity. Just when we have been struggling to keep up with multifarious challenges our industry is prone to, here comes another bolt from the blues from our national carrier Air India – the stubborn maharaja, habitual of making blunders one after the other.
The National Carrier truly ought to be more mindful, prudent and far sighted than what is revealed by its recent arbitrary, disruptive decisions, taken (not in national interest for sure!!) but without assessing its outcome, without consulting the travel fraternity, its associations and federations, built on decades of trust and commitment.
- It is a known fact that Global Distribution Systems (GDS) are essential for business both for domestic & international sales. Like most full service airlines, Air India had been using multiple GDS systems so far. It has been proved across the globe, that this is the best practice and is in the best interest of the airline. However, Air India took a decision arbitrarily and decided to get rid of all GDSs in favor of just one - Travelport as its exclusive GDS and give up the rest.
- No proper bidding. No tender process. No transparency. No consultation with the industry, nor with industry associations.
- This move means that if a travel agent wants to book a ticket on Air India, he has no choice but to be on a Travelport GDS.
- This also mean limited access to Air India’s inventory and its availability, by the agencies in India and overseas. Due to this recent initiative of Air India, this will now be limited and this will negatively impact Airlines sales.
- Why Travelport, which has a 20% market share globally, whilst Amadeus enjoys 43%? Why Travelport with a 30% market share in India, whilst Amadeus enjoys 55%?
- It has been ascertained that this decision to shift exclusively to a single GDS, was opposed by its previous Chairman and Managing Director Rajiv Bansal and Commercial Director Pankaj Srivastava. The opposition came on the ground that shifting to a single platform would restrict the airline’s market reach leading to loss of bookings and eventually revenue.
- The Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) & Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) - a lobby group of travel agents objected to Air India's decision to select a single GDS service provider as it will irrevocably impact revenues negatively.
- Does Air India amidst all its existing woes have the appetite to take such risks that will not just result in its own financial downfall but will cause unfathomable inconvenience to travel agencies, most of whom are on Amadeus and have invested not just financially, but time & effort to train their teams since several years.
- Why would travel agents change their GDS contracts and commitments for just one airline? They will be forced to book the same routes on alternate airlines (mostly foreign), which will further result in losses for the national airline.
- To save lesser costs (GDS Costs) - Air India is threatened with loss of revenue on
reduced seat sale – this revenue is much higher to the GDS cost.
- 91 out of 100 travel agencies who account for Air India’s sales, sell through multiple GDS platforms.
- This move will disconnect about 18 codeshare partners and over 100 interline partners.
- A high percentage of bookings come from Sub – Agencies. Sub-agencies are
connected only through IATA Agencies. When the main IATA agency gets
disconnected from Airline Inventory, the sub agencies too will lose inventory access.
This leads to Customer challenges and disrupts the airline’s market share, which
will certainly get transferred to other Airlines.
- It will also lead to loss of business from Star Alliance Partners, a membership that did not come to Air India easily!
- It will exclude Air India from large global online players like Expedia, Odigeo, Egencia and others as they do not work with Travelport.
- As shared before in our communication to the media – For several established
agencies, usage of GDS is governed by Global Agreements they have entered into and thus switching over or training their staff to get used to this limited GDS access will be a difficult option to cope up with. Airlines have interline agreements and we agents book multiple-airline in one booking which has many different connections. With different airline offering their inventory on specific GDS, the seamless services offered by agents will be affected. GDS Companies are not evenly distributed across India or are able to service the travel trade in a uniform pattern. This can certainly have a challenging impact on Air India’s sales.
- This comes under violation of “Competition Law” in India and can be impact the national Airline negatively.
- Interesting to note that Travelport in India is represented by the Interglobe Group, the owners of Indigo Airlines, Air India’s biggest rival. With this decision, Air India’s complete inventory data would be available with them, leading not only to a conflict of interest but potential of data leak to a rival and fast growing competitor.
Penny wise, pound foolish? Lack of vision? Or is there more that we need to know?
Please do sign this petition so that our cause & concern reaches the corridors of the Hon’ble Ministry of Civil Aviation and that better sense prevails in the larger interest of the industry and the nation.
Reconsider the Decision of going sole on one GDS
Responsible Travel Agent and Tax payer.
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