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Don’t tar good agents with Bestjet brush says AFTA

June 26, 2019 Headline News 2 Comments Email Email

The collapse of online travel agent Bestjet last December with an estimated deficiency of AUD 22.6 million, leaving angry customers out of pocket, does not mean the industry framework needs an overhaul, according to the chairman of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA).

Writing in AFTA’s latest annual report, the federation’s chairman Tom Manwaring  warns against “an overreaction” to the collapse, which he says could produce “unrealistic implications for those that continue to have well run, professional, honest and strong travel businesses”.

The industry is divided on the issue, with some feeling that some form of over-arching consumer protection, as was formerly provided by the defunct Travel Compensation Fund (TCF), would go a long way to avoiding the bad publicity which flows from agent collapses and consumers losing their money.

Manwaring, who is also chief executive of the Express Travel Group, observes that “our industry has remained strong despite the fact that several AFTA members and non AFTA members have gone out of business in the past year. These events are always difficult for industry, suppliers and consumers to understand and in many cases resolve the issues created.

“I am pleased that AFTA continues to be involved in the solutions that follows these events, to guide the media in the right direction and ensure that the value of travel agents and reputation of the industry remains intact.”

AFTA chairman Tom Manwaring

Without mentioning Bestjet by name, Manwaring makes the OTA’s identity clear when he refers to “the significant collapse of an OTA in December”.

He writes that the collapse “has definitely sent shockwaves across the entire travel value chain and while the majority of consumers have been either uplifted by airlines or been provided with a chargeback, the problems that have flowed are significant.

“AFTA has been central to getting to the bottom of the events that brought about this collapse and has played a collaboration role across all stakeholders who have been seriously impacted by this large-scale collapse.

“I note that several years ago AFTA took a strong stance in the Supreme Court with this OTA to disallow membership of AFTA and it is a stark warning to the future of how strong and vigilant AFTA and ATAS must remain, given the circumstances that ultimately have resulted with this OTA.”

Manwaring writes that “one disgraced agency does not mean that the industry framework needs an overhaul.

“It is important to have AFTA in the conversation with regulators and others to ensure that situations of this nature do not give rise to an overreaction which has unrealistic implications for those that continue to have well run, professional, honest and strong travel businesses.”

AFTA has just published its annual report. See: AFTA strong financially as public chooses favourite agencies

As for Bestjet, Queensland liquidators Pilot Partners are still sifting through the collapsed company’s affairs, with corporate regulator ASIC now involved as well. See: Former operators of failed Bestjet face public interrogation

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. AgentGerko says:

    I don’t know why AFTA would even have anything to do with a company like Bestjet. They are not a traditional travel agency such as AFTA was set up to represent. They are an OTA, which is itself is a bad term. Correctly put, they are an OBS or Online Booking System. OBS’s have become they scourge of our industry as they pretend to turn every traveller into an expert on booking travel. The complaint files of the world are crammed with people whose trips have become disasters because they tried to do it all themselves using a mix of OBS’s and budget online airlines.

  2. Andris Blums says:

    As part of the termination of the previous Travel Compensation Fund the AFTA agreed to a replacement scheme that died before conception. Consumers do not need AFTA crocodile tears they need the replacements scheme promised back in 2014 . NOW IMMEDIATELY

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