Travel industry leaders gathered today at Pearson airport to protest Air Canada’s anti-consumer removal of Tango fares from major reservations systems. They urged Air Canada to restore Tango fares immediately. They also adopted a set of principles to govern all future airline distribution program changes in order to avoid future fare crises.
Late at night on May 2nd, Air Canada, without warning, withdrew Tango fares from all of the distribution systems used by travel agents, forcing consumers to go to Air Canada’s website to find Tango fares. This decision has had a significant impact on the efficiency of the travel market and has made it much more difficult for travel agents to serve their customers. Undermining the critical service travel agents provide, Air Canada has made this unilateral decision even though travel agents currently book over 70 percent of Air Canada flights.
“Our members are extremely upset by Air Canada’s decision,” commented Jean Collette, Chair of the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies. “Air Canada is really saying that they don’t value the important service travel agents provide and consumers demand. At a time when Air Canada is being criticized for alienating customers, this is a particularly egregious move.”
In addition to Mr. Collette, a number of other key travel industry leaders spoke at the meeting including Kevin Mitchell from the Business Travel Coalition, Brad Miron of itravel2000, and Sue Lott from the Public Interest Advocacy Centre.
“It was a very engaged group of travel professionals that came together on short notice today and found common ground on an issue of importance to anyone who flies in Canada,” said Christiane Théberge, Vice President, Public Affairs from the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies. “We may be jilted Tango partners today, but we’re confident we will dance again,” she concluded.
“We’re pleased with the principles that were presented at the meeting and we urge Air Canada to take them seriously in the consumers’ interest,” commented Sue Lott of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre.
Those in attendance discussed a set of principles intended to help move Air Canada and the Global Distribution Systems (GDSs) towards a solution. The principles adopted were as follows:
Air Canada and the GDSs should simultaneously roll back all their fare actions taken since May 2. When that sensible step occurs, travel agents and other industry participants will be able to return to serving their customers effectively and efficiently, and begin a dialogue on longer-term solutions.
Future airline distribution program changes:
1. must protect the consumer’s ability to access all fares with the
assistance of a travel professional;
2. must preserve reservations or fulfillment processes that most
efficiently meet consumer needs;
3. should only proceed after constructive discussion with all
business partners in the distribution system.
“This issue has touched an extremely sensitive nerve in the business travel community and all throughout the travel industry,” commented Kevin Mitchell, Chairman of the Business Travel Coalition (BTC). “In the wake of a huge and sustained outcry, it’s time for Air Canada to make it right.”
Air Canada was invited to the meeting but chose not to participate.
ACTA is the national trade association representing the interests of 2,600 small, medium-sized, and large travel agencies that employ 19,000 retail travel professionals in communities across Canada.
The Business Travel Coalition was established in 1994 with a mission to lower the long-term cost structure of business travel.