Travel agents in Kenya should brace themselves for what promises to be a year of significant changes from IATA. A review of various communications which were released by IATA last year reveals that a raft of changes are underway, some that will alter the Passenger Agency Program as we know it today.
In November 2017, at the close of the Passenger Agency Conference (PAConf), IATA released a press statement announcing the adoption of resolutions for the full implementation of the New Generation IATA Settlement Systems (NEWGEN ISS). In simple terms, the current Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) that facilitates the global distribution of air tickets and payment between Travel Agents and Airlines has been overhauled and will be replaced by a more modern and robust system.
Significant changes that come with the new system include; 1) three options of IATA accreditation including one where travel agents will be accredited without providing a financial security; 2) a pay as you go e-wallet BSP payment solutions known as IATA Easy pay; 3) an alternative financial security in form of a global default insurance programme and finally; 4) a risk management system known as Remittance Holding Capacity that will ensure travel agents have a safe selling limit.
The new system has been under a pilot in certain select markets and will be rolled out progressively across the globe starting March 2018. IATA has not indicated which countries will be included in the first phase of the roll out but agents in Kenya should remain alert for any eventualities.
Additionally, travel agents will for the first time be allowed to settle their BSP payments using the company’s own credit card after the relevant resolutions were reviewed and a new one called Transparency in Payments (TIP) initiative adopted. TIP reveals the different features and costs associated with each form of payment and agent remittance of airline funds. It should however be noted that this will only be possible with the consent of individual airlines.
Another big change expected is the requirement that all IATA accredited travel agents comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) by 31 March 2018. This announcement was made early last year with a June 1, 2017 deadline that was eventually pushed to this year after a global outcry. KATA has since last year been helping agents with the compliance process and expects that by the deadline, all agents will have complied.
From the local front, it is expected that the local financial criteria that has been under discussion at the APJC will be concluded and ratified in readiness for implementation later on in the year. The review which began when Kenya moved to the fortnight remittance regime in 2016 seeks to align the document with the global resolution 800f.
Whichever way you look at it, 2018 is going to be a turning point for IATA travel agents and even though the exact time when some of these proposed changes will be rolled in Kenya is still unclear, it is important that agents get prepared in anticipation. The KATA Executive Committee will be at hand to guide members through every step of the changes.
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