25th September 2015To : All IATA Accredited Agents in IndiaDear Colleagues,This is an open letter to TAAI and TAFI Presidents and Management Committee Members. It seems to be action time and crucial juncture for Travel Trade Associations for electing new Office Bearers, to handle the industry affairs for the next 2 years.Today, the plethora of challenges like Zero commission, WPS, DCC, Fares disparity and so on, are engulfing and almost swallowing the hapless small and medium sized travel agents, who account for 80% of the travel agent fraternity. At the same time, it is evident from the below points that the industry is being crippled with lot of anomalies like payment of brokerage /Commission of Rs 5.83 crore on account of our insurance guarantee premiums which is being collected and processed by IATA-BSP in coordination with APJC-India.
Do the TAAI/ TAFI leaders, past or incumbent, have the sincerity and courage to take path-breaking decisions is a moot point. A quick look at the past record of their actions throws up intriguing questions, clearly exposing lack of will–power, basic mala fide intentions to collaborate with the Airlines in fulfilling their agenda of decimating small and medium travel agents. Let us put a few simple questions:
1. TAFI’s open support and rescue actions to save OTAs
OTA’s dominate the travel industry with predatory sometimes illogical pricing (due to front-end and back-end incentives offered by airlines) and majority of the travel Agents are forced to either buy from them or shut-down operations. Backed by the Airlines, OTA’s influence and market-share are mind-boggling.
And when IATA wanted to implement Weekly Remittance with 5-day credit period specifically for OTAs, it was TAFI who jumped to their rescue and with the lobbying support of WATTA and PAPGJC, succeeded in deferring IATA’s decision. TAFI’s own circular of 5th Aug 2015 evidently proves the fact. ( Click here to view the TAFI Circular ) Congratulations! (If this dedication was there in 2011, Weekly payment would not have been implemented in India)
Question: Ignoring the ordinary agents, why did TAFI defend
2. IATA’s circular on termination of cheque collection
TAAI and TAFI had stated that APJC- India had decided on 03 Aug 2015, ( Click here to view the TAAI Circular dated 7th Aug 2015 ) on termination of cheque collection effective 01 Jan 2016 and proposed to PAConf for approval. Though the next PAConf meeting is ONLY in Oct 2015, IATA went ahead with confirmation mailers on 18 Aug 2015 ( Click here to view the IATA letter )and TAAI acknowledged on 20 Aug 2015 (Click here to view the TAAI Circular dated 20 Aug 2015).
TAAI and TAFI had circulated that “It was concurred by both Airline and Associations during the Meeting, to accept payment through RTGS on the 9th day of billing cycle, ie remittance date plus 2 days, if the Agent chooses to pay through above option”. Whereas, IATA clearly stated that payment through RTGS will be accepted on the Remittance date only and not as above, which means Agents will lose 2 clear days.
Questions (1) How did IATA issue confirmation letter, if “matter” is pending PAConf approval?
(2) Why there is such discrepancy in reporting of TAAI & TAFI misleading the Agents?
3. APJC-India : secret activities and fiscal benefits
a) IATA stipulates that countries under Res 818g should regulate APJC as per PAConf new Guidelines of 2014 January, Appendix “F”, re-structure with maximum 18 memberships, drawn equally from Airlines and Travel Agents (9 + 9) and Chairman to be elected amongst them. Even small countries like Malaysia and Singapore, with less than 750 travel agents and 10 % of India market size has 18 Members in their respective APJCs. So why not India with 3000 plus IATA Agents and being second biggest market in Asia, next only to China?
Questions (1) If TAAI & TAFI is not a part of this national ploy, why not demand for 18 members, 3 each from all three associations?
(2) Why APJC meetings are held so privately and secretively?
b) When all democratic efforts to re-structure APJC-India failed, IAAI was compelled to approach Gurgaon District Courts against IATA, seeking directives to re-constitute APJC-India with 18 members, 9 members drawn equally from all three associations. In fact, presently Airlines do have 9 sitting members in APJC-India in addition to a Chairman without voting rights and 2 standbys, whereas; Agents have ONLY 7 members, a deliberate ploy to keep IAAI away from the ambit of the regulatory system. (Click here to view the BSP List of APJC members in 2015) .
Question: Can any of the leaderships defend or refute this fact?
c) The Agents default Insurance Guarantee program is administered by IATA BSP under APJC-India. IATA says that premiums are being negotiated by Agent representatives in APJC. One of the Insurers, United India Insurance Co Ltd has paid Rs 5.84 Crores as brokerage charges for insurance premium collected during 2010-2014, to an Insurance Broker in Mumbai (RTI records dated 27.07.2015). Who could be the beneficiaries –may God help us! However as IFFCO TOKIO does not fall under RTI, it was not possible to obtain similar information on brokerage / commission paid out by them.
Question: -( 1) Can any of the Agency representations in APJC or their leaders can defend this EVIDENTARY FACT?
(2) Who are the beneficiaries?
d) It appears that IATA – India is taking the shield to cover and protect the regulatory systems and even went to the edge of forgery to safeguard the APJC activities by Member Agents. Our criminal case against IATA under CRP 340 refers.
Question: What is the integrity or interest for IATA-India to defend TAAI/TAFI in the Court proceedings?
e) Everyone is aware that only a re-constituted APJC under Appendix “F” with strong and equally committed representation of all 3 National Agents Associations with a Chairman of voting rights can only reverse the weekly payment to a fortnightly or monthly system. Today, TAP and the Weekly payment is weakening the Travel Agent community, more than zero commission and everyone will fully endorse this view.
Questions: (1) Why TAAI & TAFI is silent on re-constitution of APJC-India?
(2) Why TAAI & TAFI is not pushing for reversal of Weekly payment to Fortnightly payment ?
4. Joint Bank Guarantee – an easy process to amass money for Associations.
Totally sidelining agent’s interest, TAAI and TAFI is strongly proposing the JBG scheme and claiming victory too. It is good for Association to amass money and good for big players to enjoy the de-regulatory control over capping system owned by the Associations. to allow maximum leverage to big players . No ordinary travel agent wants it ; it will slowly lead to the demise of Insurances Guarantee, which is the only boon to ordinary agents. The Associations succeeded in bartering JBG with Airlines, instead of bargaining for lower premiums on the prevailing insurance guarantee system.
TAAI and TAFI circulated that JBG will be implemented from 1st Jul 2015 and then postponed to Jan 2016, quoting that certain technical formalities were required by IATA. Is it true?
Reality it was due to IAAI case at Gurgaon District Court against IATA for reconstitution of APJC, which forced IATA and Associations to postpone its implementation and to which IAAI had given a clearance on 14th Aug 2015 to exempt JNB from the on-going case.
Questions: (1) Why Associations are scared to share open facts?
(2) Why TAAI & TAFI hesitated to bargain for lower premiums from IFFCO-TOKIO?
(3) Why TAAI /TAFI is pushing JBG which is beneficial only to Associations by misleading the industry?
5. Default Insurance Program ( DIP) – The common agents plea
IAAI had offered to IATA, proposals from 2 International Guarantors for DIP. But IATA was reluctant to share all the required basic statistical data on total insured amount, usage, default/repayment ratio etc with our Service Providers, due to matter not being recommended through APJC-India. Whereas, airlines like SQ, EK, EY, 9W fully supported our proposal on DIP.
DIPs have been already successfully implemented in various international markets. IT is a fixed amount per ticket, which the Agent needs to pay as premium through BSP billing. No advance premiums or any cash or collateral / fixed deposits. Airlines are fully covered and Agents free from capping restrictions, as agents do have more flexibility to enhance their business . TAAI/TAFI is also well aware of this.
Question: Why TAAI / TAFI is not supporting such progressive moves, instead of promoting JBGs?
6. Mandatory Commission to Travel Agents
IAAI, on its own, through Kerala high court, had obtained Orders from DGCA on 5th March 2010 and from MoCA on 16th September 2013 mandating commision as the rightful remuneration to the Agents.
Even today, IAAI has an ongoing Case in the Kerala High Court to execute and implement these orders enable all the Travel Agents in India to regain the legitimate Commission irrespective of which Association they belong to.
Is there any specific reason for TAAI / TAFI for not supporting IAAI in this Commission issue, which could benefit the whole travel agent fraternity ?
General & Conclusion:
Dear Friends: You may select LEADERS who can convincingly answer above Questions. We are ordinary, average travel agents. Today, we have been pushed to the edge of graveyard by our own Leaderships who dominated Indian Travel Trade with vested interests. Hence, now, it is high time for US to know, who the real leaders are and what is happening behind the scenes.
Satyameva Jayate !
for IAAI National Board,
Biji Eapen D.L. Jekannathan S. Saldanha
National President General Secretary National Treasurer