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ASTA board of directors pass fight back directives against Airlines

New commission cuts announced by Air France and Northwest/KLM have put travel agents on the war path.
After the two airlines above cut U.S. travel agents' commission to 5%, the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA<.>), following an emergency meeting of its board of directors, announced a "Fight Back" campaign against United Airlines for commission cuts. In addition to a series of actions released last week, the program will include the following components:
Expel United Airlines from membership in the Society effective immediately. United last week announced it was the first airline to cut travel agent commissions to five percent. This is the third time United has led commission reductions in as many years.
Initiate a lawsuit in Wisconsin on behalf of Wisconsin travel agents alleging violations of Wisconsin Fair Dealership Law. Wisconsin law requires notification before changes in the competitive circumstances are unilaterally imposed and places the burden of proof of good cause for the action on the dealership grantor (in this case the airline).
ASTA plans to retain local litigation counsel immediately. Resume efforts to abolish the statutory authority to grant antitrust immunity to airlines.
Explore the implementation of ASTA member enforcement of ASTA's Air Travelers Bill of Rights. This program would involve ASTA members as an active link between dissatisfied consumers and the government.
The program would focus on enforcement of the truth in advertising and timely, accurate disclosure principles in the ASTA Air Travelers Bill of Rights. The issues are being sent to a special travel agent task force and the ASTA Research Family of ASTA agent members.
Form a coalition embracing dealers (and others, such as physicians) who all face the same problem of coping with large, economically powerful entities but cannot act collectively under the antitrust laws.
"When the news first broke, ASTA initiated a series of aggressive actions including a filing with the Department of Transportation to rescind commission cuts, demands that Computer Reservation Systems roll back penalties and booking thresholds and the formation of ASTA Consulting Services to assist members in retooling their businesses," said ASTA President and CEO Joe Galloway.
"The major airlines are calling the question and ASTA has an answer for them: 'Consumers need what travel agents provide, and we're going to fight to the death to assure that they continue to get it.'
"The Board of Directors has committed all of ASTA's available resources to this fight,"
said Galloway. "We're redoubling our efforts on Capitol Hill to extend our recent successes by securing the passage of H.R. 2200. This is one battle we intend to win."

New commission cuts announced by Air France and Northwest/KLM have put travel agents on the war path.

After the two airlines above cut U.S. travel agents' commission to 5%, the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA<.>), following an emergency meeting of its board of directors, announced a "Fight Back" campaign against United Airlines for commission cuts. In addition to a series of actions released last week, the program will include the following components:

Expel United Airlines from membership in the Society effective immediately. United last week announced it was the first airline to cut travel agent commissions to five percent. This is the third time United has led commission reductions in as many years.

Initiate a lawsuit in Wisconsin on behalf of Wisconsin travel agents alleging violations of Wisconsin Fair Dealership Law. Wisconsin law requires notification before changes in the competitive circumstances are unilaterally imposed and places the burden of proof of good cause for the action on the dealership grantor (in this case the airline).

ASTA plans to retain local litigation counsel immediately. Resume efforts to abolish the statutory authority to grant antitrust immunity to airlines.

Explore the implementation of ASTA member enforcement of ASTA's Air Travelers Bill of Rights. This program would involve ASTA members as an active link between dissatisfied consumers and the government.

The program would focus on enforcement of the truth in advertising and timely, accurate disclosure principles in the ASTA Air Travelers Bill of Rights. The issues are being sent to a special travel agent task force and the ASTA Research Family of ASTA agent members.

Form a coalition embracing dealers (and others, such as physicians) who all face the same problem of coping with large, economically powerful entities but cannot act collectively under the antitrust laws.

"When the news first broke, ASTA initiated a series of aggressive actions including a filing with the Department of Transportation to rescind commission cuts, demands that Computer Reservation Systems roll back penalties and booking thresholds and the formation of ASTA Consulting Services to assist members in retooling their businesses," said ASTA President and CEO Joe Galloway.

"The major airlines are calling the question and ASTA has an answer for them: 'Consumers need what travel agents provide, and we're going to fight to the death to assure that they continue to get it.'

"The Board of Directors has committed all of ASTA's available resources to this fight,"
said Galloway. "We're redoubling our efforts on Capitol Hill to extend our recent successes by securing the passage of H.R. 2200. This is one battle we intend to win."

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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