The International Air Transport Association moved to appease the travel sector last week with a letter requesting consent to include data such as agency code, sales information and office locations in the PaxIS system.
While many agents are likely to give their consent because it allows them to track commercial deals with airlines, in other quarters, the letter has served to fuel a number of already sensitive issues, not least, that of who the data belongs to.
PaxIS was developed by IATA to capture data using the Billing and Settlement Plan and produce airline passenger marketing intelligence.
IATA, however, was rapped by the European Union in November for being in breach of CRS Code of Conduct regulations and told to remove all European travel agent data from PaxIS.
While IATA did not have to initially ask for consent to include the information because, unlike the global distribution systems, it is not classed as a CRS, the EU changed its view last year.
The GDSs have long been calling for IATA to be brought within the Code of Conduct and representatives from that quarter are likely to be watching these latest PaxIS developments closely.
Historically, the GDSs have also come into conflict with IATA over data with some of the¬†issues summarised here.
The Guild of Travel Management Companies is advising members to seek full disclosure on what the data will be used for before making any decisions.
A members’ meeting held this week showed many TMCs were not aware of the letter.
According to GTMC chief Anne Godfrey, IATA has provided written assurances that agencies who do not give their consent will not suffer as a result.
Godfrey has also written to the IATA expressing concerns over how the issue is being communicated:
“It’s positive in the sense that IATA has recognised the need to act but the worst thing is how can silence mean assent, it’s not best practice.”
The IATA letter tells agents that if they don’t respond by the end of April, it will be assumed they are giving their consent.
The GTMC is also urging members to find out more about Direct Data Services, the system likely to replace PaxIS in the next 12 months, which is believed will be more expansive in terms of the data it provides.
According to IATA the letter was sent to every European travel agent’s head office account while 13 multinational TMCs are being approached directly.