It could be argued that the last thing this country needs is
another lobbying group cozying up to legislators and regulators in
Washington, but we suspect that good things may come of a
broad-based body coalescing to influence airline-competition policy
Although details about the as-yet-unnamed alliance are sketchy,
the group is said to include about a dozen representatives of
travel agent, community and consumer interests, with only Woodside
Travel Trust and ARTA on record as charter members. It remains to
be seen whether the other participants turn out to be of equal
stature. We hope they do.
With the House and Senate aviation committees poised to address
a number of contentious industry issues and the Department of
Transportation already wrestling with a docket full of petitions
for redress, now is the time for a powerful and inclusive coalition
to speak with one, clear voice in an effort to influence
Although the inchoate group will not focus on commission cuts
and the like, a spokesman said a concerted effort to enhance the
competitive environment in the airline business "will take care of
the survival of travel agencies."
It can't hurt. Such a coordinated strategy ultimately will work
to better the trade's bargaining position with its "ex-partners in
travel," the airlines, but we think it would be better to address
retailers' concerns head-on rather than obliquely.
After all, the viability of the travel agency community -- and
the unbiased access to ticketing that agents provide -- goes
directly to the issue of airline competition and consumer
That being the case, we will look to see that trade interests
are well represented in the lobbying alliance.
ASTA, for one, has not been asked to join.
We hope it is -- and we hope it does.