NEW DELHI: In a petition to the Ministry of Civil Aviation on the introduction of GDS by Air India, the Air Passengers Association of India (APAI) has questioned the step by the national carrier in regards to its booking system with effect from December 4.
The letter addresed to Civil Aviation minister Suresh Prabhu, stated that millions of people who had planned their vacations well in advance and made bookings on Air India, post December 4th will be highly inconvenienced in cancelling or rebooking their tickets either through a travel agent, interline partners or market place.
"When globally businesses are moving to multiple touchpoints and points of sale like market places where competitive pricing, ease of transaction and promptness are of essence for the consumer, Air India's decision to restrict itself to a single platform starting on December 4 is a highly retrograde step. Considering that Air India's tickets will now be offered only on Travelport instead of multiple platforms, the consumer will have to now accept monopolistic prices and favored routes chosen by Travelport only," said D Sudhakar Reddy, President & Founder, APAI.
He also mentioned in the letter that following this move, after December 4th, this will disconnect about 18 codeshare airline partners and over 100 inter line partners because passengers will not be able to access any information. "This will also have a huge impact on the much-advertised Star Alliance Partnership, which Air India had regained after great difficulty. From a consumer perspective, Air India opens Bookings up to 362 days in advance thus implying that millions of passengers who would have booked till end of November 2019 will not able to make a change in the current booking or avail onward journey on any Star Alliance Partners code sharing services," said Reddy.
About 40 airline partners like British Airways, Lufthansa, Swiss, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airways, Air Canada, United Airlines and many others will not be accessible to a consumer. Such fragmentation will also lead to major impact wherein optional airlines will start offering surge and higher price points for ticket sales to the customer/s.
Further, international passengers would not have the choice of booking Air India especially from USA, UK, Europe or Middle East as global online portals will not reflect airline inventory as they do not work with Travelport.
"Post December 4, the PNRs already issued, fresh bookings, the onward journeys, crediting of Star Alliance Partners miles by Air India will need to be resolved by its own Call Centers and customer care. This will lead to utter chaos for senior citizens, students, travelers, holiday makers, families and business travelers on Air India. So, in the end all this will be highly detrimental to travelers across the globe as well as the efforts to revive Air India and make it profitable," said Reddy
Established in 1990, APAI (Air Passengers Association of India) is an autonomous organization formed to represent the interests of air passengers and protect passengers' interests, redress their grievances and improve air connectivity.
(With PTI inputs)