L’International Air Transport Association (IATA) has just demonstrated once again its dominant position -a position assimilated to a economic cartel according to travel professionals – in ticket distribution of plane.
Latest example, the sudden end of the online travel agency Bourse-des-vols, as reported yesterday by the site The Tourist Echo. In 25 days, IATA forced into bankruptcy a major French tour operator which has been established for 27 years and employs 25 people. How ?
The company VIATICUM, parent company of the Bourse-des-Vols site, was placed in liquidation last week by decision of the Paris Commercial Court. A pioneer of I-tourism, the travel agency has nevertheless always posted profits for 27 years.
On July 17, 2023, VIATICUM received a message from IATA asking it to provide a bank guarantee representing 80% of its 2022 turnover, despite a profitable fiscal year. Faced with the impossibility of obtaining a delay from IATA or the support of its banking partners, it was suspended with immediate effect, from August 16, 2023, the rights to issue plane tickets in the BSP (Billing and Settlement Plan) system, despite more than two decades of partnership without the slightest payment incident.
Air ticket sales must pass through the BSP, a clearing house set up and controlled by IATA, which gives it absolute control over distribution. Deprived of its main source of income – the sale of dry flights – VIATICUM saw its financial situation deteriorate at an alarming rate, leading to the decision of the Paris Commercial Court to opt for liquidation. As a result, VIATICUM took legal action against IATA for brutal breach of contract, according to information from the site. TourMag.
A legal action supported by Entreprises du Voyage (EdV), which represents travel agencies in France: “ What is happening to Bourse-des-vols, with a high bail request, is unacceptable. We support his legal action, we also provide him with elements for his case », Declares the president of EdV, Jean-Pierre Mas, quoted by L’Echo Touristique.
“ We submitted a file on IATA almost two years ago to the DGCCRF (Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention, Editor’s note), which remained a dead letter, says Jean-Pierre Mas, we had notably developed a whole legal argument on the completely unbalanced relations between the organization and the distribution, i.e. essentially the travel agencies. IATA lacks common sense, applies strict criteria that it decides alone, without any compensation. We therefore support all actions that can make it bend “.
“ Is IATA really a mafia? », a very well documented investigation by journalist Didier Forray and published by the magazine Espaces Tourisme et Loisirs. Several months of investigation, dozens of calls to the four corners of the planet, revelations, surprises… to understand everything about the sometimes brutal methods of IATA and its relations with travel agents!