Tag Archives: Biji Eapen

Speedwings signs MoU with Verteil Technologies

Speedwings has recently signed an exclusive MoU with Verteil Technologies to access NDC-listed airline products through its direct connect platform ‘VDC’ (Verteil Direct Connect) and provide NDC-based training programme to travel agents and other aspirants in the industry. NDC (New Distribution Capability) is a travel industry-supported programme launched by IATA for the development and market adoption of a new, XML-based data transmission standard. The NDC Standard enhances the capability of communications between airlines and travel agents. According to Biji Eapen, Chairman and CEO, Speedwings, “This is a newly developed cutting-edge concept in our teaching-learning process to help the travel industry to become more professional and helps freshers to be employable. Speedwings and Vertiel will jointly issue certificates to the successful candidates.” NDC Training programme is innovative and unique in the history of IATA and travel industry. This NDC-aligned innovative tool allows to display and connect airline inventories directly to its host reservation system providing access to availability, pricing, shopping and ticketing plus facilitating ancillary sales of excess baggage, visas, chauffeur service, etc. NDC ticketing in India started issuing tickets on BA, EK and LH during the first quarter of 2018 only. It is currently facilitated through I-Top (Indian Travel-Agents Own Portal developed by IATA Agents Association of India), integrated through Verteil Direct Connect.

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IAAI’s I-Top issues India’s first NDC ticket

The IATA Agents Association of India (IAAI) and the I-Top team has issued the first NDC ticketing in India. Last week, Magellan Travel Services in Chennai issued the first NDC ticket in India on a British Airways flight for the MAA/LON sector through I-Top using the Vertiel Technologies Direct connect platform. It has issued the NDC tickets at a price lower than all OTAs in India. Reservation and NDC ticketing on Lufthansa and Emirates airlines are also ready and 10 agents across the country shall be starting the pilot run by next week through I-Top. The advantage and the specialty of the I-Top powered by TravelShore is that the portal can be used to issue tickets simultaneously through both GDS connectivity (presently Galileo, which will be followed soon by Amadeus and Abacus) and Verteil Direct Connect for NDC ticketing using BSP mode of settlement. A major benefit is that the NDC ticketing will curtail discrepancies and agents will be free from any ADMs. Biji Eapen, President, IAAI, says, “Our experimental trial runs have turned out to be successful and prove that the I-Top users using NDC ticketing can easily avail better prices than any OTA in India. Especially in a country like India, where zero commission prevails, I-Top will serve as a ‘magic lamp’ for agents to generate revenue. Once I-Top becomes fully operational and more members start using, together and consistently, we will negotiate with airline operators for ‘consolidated special deals’ so that the user member shall be substantially remunerated for their services rendered to the airlines. I-Top shall be offered to the common memberships by second week of January as a New year gift.”

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IAAI’s convention from Sept 14-17 in Kochi

The IATA Agents Association of India (IAAI) will conduct its national convention – ICON 2017 – from September 14-17, 2017 at the picturesque Cherai Beach located 25 km from Kochi City. It will be held as a three nights-four days event with the theme ‘Travel Agents by 2030 – Protocols Redefined’. Biji Eapen, National President, IAAI, says, “As travel agents are just coming to grips with the newly implemented GST, it will form one of the prime issues for discussion since airline commission is going to be crucial for their survival. The additional BSP charge of US$30 per month imposed by IATA since April 2017 has come at a time when airlines are still denying commission to their own appointed travel agents. As implied by the ICON 2017 Theme, IAAI is all set to launch ‘i-Top’ (Indian Travel-Agents Own Portal), a new revenue model that would safeguard the interests of its members from all the present challenging market conditions.”

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IAAI withdraws complete support to Emirates

During its AGM held in Thiruvananthapuram, the members of the IATA Agents Association of India (IAAI) unanimously decided to withdraw their support to Emirates Airlines. Speaking about this move, Biji Eapen, National President, IAAI, says, “In case of non-adherence to regulatory requirements, we have decided not to sell or promote Emirates or any of its ancillary services  from April 1, 2017 onwards.” The association had earlier written a letter to Emirates requesting it to withhold its proposed reduction of commission from April 1, 2017 and retain the present level of commission  at three per cent gross or more till the Kerala High Court verdict. Eapen adds, “Our case WP25752/2013 and WA1136/2015 in the Hon High Court of Kerala for implementation, execution, and enforcement of DGCA Order March 5, 2010 is now scheduled for division bench hearing on May 25, 2017.”

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IAAI requests Emirates to reconsider commission cut

Biji Eapen, National President, IATA Agents Association of India (IAAI), has written a letter to Emirates addressed to its Vice President – India & Nepal, Essa Sulaiman Ahmad, requesting him to reconsider the airline’s decision to cut agency commission. The letter reads, ‘…the proposed action clearly contradicts your statement in the opening paragraph of the referred letter – that the travel agents are your “prime strategic distribution channel.” Especially as it is only their market support over the years that has placed Emirates in a dominant position above the national carrier.’ The letter then outlines the hardships that agents go through to sell Emirates, ‘Agents have over the years taken care of your sales and marketing, generating thousands of crores of rupees worth of business by risking huge amounts in the market, maintaining well-manned offices, canvassing for clients and servicing all their travel requirements, obtaining overdrafts to make the airline payments and paying interests at high rates on such borrowings.’

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Retract this decision to cut agency commission

A torchbearer for the eroding agency commissions in India, Biji Eapen, National President, IATA Agents Association of India (IAAI) reacts sharply to the news. He says, “Needless to say, this has come as a rude shock to the accredited travel agents fraternity in India as it is solely their market support that has placed Emirates above the national carrier in the Indian skies. The matter is being discussed with our National Management Committee and a formal request will be sent to Emirates to retract its decision.”

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IAAI’s portal to enable agents to become consolidators

In an effort to safeguard the interests of its members from the prevailing challenging market conditions and present them with a new revenue model, the IATA Agents Association of India (IAAI) will launch an exclusive portal that will enable each of its members to become a consolidator. Titled ‘I-TOP’ which stands for Indian Travel Agents Own Portal, the program will be launched shortly. This was announced at its Annual General Body Meeting of IAAI Maharashtra State unit held in Mumbai recently. Biji Eapen, National President, IAAI National Board, said, “It is a first portal of its kind in the history of the aviation world created solely for the agents, by the agents. It has sophisticated technology and enhanced innovative processing modules. It has been enriched with facilities for the user to work as an individual or a consolidator and operate through GDS platforms and also the internet to meet the present challenges and competitions in the Industry with B2B, B2C and B2D facilities including the new NDC process.”

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‘Illegal implementation of BSP Link charges in India’

IATA-accredited travel agents all over India will soon be receiving invoices from IATA for the annual additional amount of $360 towards usage of the 2-tier BSP Link Access that is being implemented effective January 1, 2017. IAAI has contended that, though it is required under IATA Res. 818g, the new BSP Link charges in India have not been listed through the agenda and neither discussed or approved nor recommended by the APJC-India as per the IATA procedures. Hence IATA’s decision to charge $30 per month is totally illegal, arbitrary and unacceptable to the Indian Travel Agents Fraternity, said Biji Eapen, National President, IAAI National Board in an official release. Eapen affirms that IAAI will go “the whole nine yards” and attempt to get a reversal on this unwarranted action by IATA. On November 15, IAAI has communicated to the IATA Regional Director at Singapore requesting to take suggested actions immediately. The Government of India authorities and Ministry are also being alerted and notified on this subject matter. IAAI has been the only Travel Trade Association that has risen to the occasion on behalf of the IATA-accredited Travel Agents in India – as in the matter of getting the Rs.20 lakhs Minimum Guarantee withdrawn in 2002, in getting the High Court of Kerala and the DGCA to issue Orders mandating Travel Agency commission, in getting IATA to invoke force majeure for the BSP payment by Tamil Nadu Travel Agents during the thunderstorm calamity in Nov/Dec 2015 and, recently, in retaining the Insurance Guarantee system actively as the only alternative to the Joint Bank Guarantee system.

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