Rosenbluth, ASTA Fight IAR Fees

Rosenbluth International and ASTA filed an appeal with an independent arbitration panel over ARC's decision to impose escalating surcharges on travel agencies that file weekly sales reports manually rather than through ARC's IAR Interactive Plus system.


Rosenbluth International and ASTA filed an appeal with an independent arbitration panel over ARC's decision to impose escalating surcharges on travel agencies that file weekly sales reports manually rather than through ARC's IAR Interactive Plus system.

In the appeal, ASTA and Rosenbluth argued that the surcharges are little more than a financial penalty on agencies that don't use IAR.

ARC said it intends to impose the surcharge as planned starting July 1.

ASTA President Richard Copland said that although IAR is undoubtedly useful for those agents who have adopted and continue to use it, "it is not acceptable to us that ARC should try to force all agents into that mold against their will."

Copland said ASTA estimates that more than 15,000 agencies have not adopted IAR, despite "a long and costly promotional campaign for the program by ARC."

Copland added, "The airlines continue to take action against the interests of their agency distributors and we at ASTA have had enough of that."

In a statement, Rosenbluth said, "There is little disputing the value of IAR Interactive Plus to our core business - those managers already utilizing this product have reported the ease with which it aids in our unending drive to best service our clients. This notwithstanding, we cannot offer our support to the Airlines Reporting Corp.'s June 6 decision to inflict a financial penalty on those travel agents who choose not to adopt IAR."

ARC's new fee structure charges travel agents as much as $475 per year should they continue manual reporting and not convert to the IAR Interactive Plus electronic reporting system. The breakdown is $125 for an annual agency location fee, $100 for a surcharge starting July 1, another $100 surcharge on Oct. 1 and a $150 surcharge on Dec. 1.

ARC said the surcharges were based on a cost-sharing formula that would have suppliers paying 90% and travel agents paying 10%.

Meanwhile, ARC claims that 23,917 agent locations were reporting electronically using IAR at the end of May, accounting for 76% of total processing volume.

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