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
In the appeal, ASTA and Rosenbluth argued that the surcharges
are little more than a financial penalty on agencies that don't use
ARC said it intends to impose the surcharge as planned starting
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
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.