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INTERVIEW JAMES W. FOSTER

10 October 2013 00:00 INTERVIEW JAMES W. FOSTER image

James W. Foster, Chairman of APG USA is also the Chief Operating Officer of the APG Network based in New York. Active in his own award winning business since 1991, Mr. Foster has been a fixture in worldwide airline distribution for more than two decades. He formerly was the COO of Dragonair in Hong Kong and prior to that was the Managing Director for Europe, Africa and the Middle East for Northwest Airlines.

Who is The APG Network?

Established in Paris in 1991 to meet airline demand for regional sales solutions, the APG Network has developed a comprehensive suite of airline services, collectively called the “World Program.”

World Program products help more than 190 airlines to develop distribution strategies, integrating IATA’s Billing and Settlement Plans (BSPs), the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), Interline Electronic Ticketing (IET) and General Sales Agency (GSA) tools in primary, secondary and tertiary markets. 

Today, the APG Network has 111 member offices on 6 continents, covering 175 countries and it has partnership agreements with both IATA and ARC. In 2009, the APG Network won the coveted ARC “Sales Partner of the Year Award.” APG USA looks after a portfolio of more than 40 airlines from offices in New York, Los Angeles, Houston and Miami. 

What is Interline E-Ticketing? 

An “e-ticket” is a passenger’s digital record in an airline’s computer reservations system containing all the information formerly captured on a paper ticket. “Interlining” is a voluntary commercial agreement between airlines to handle passengers traveling on a multi carrier itinerary. An Interline Electronic Ticketing agreement is the document exchanged between airlines that govern the travel of those multi carrier itinerary Interline passengers, covering the acceptance of tickets, baggage and the like. 

APG, with its partner, Heli Air Monaco (YO/747) has “commercialized” the Interline E-Ticketing business, offering 2nd and 3rd party Interline ticketing services currently to 92 small, medium and large airlines the world over - linking them with both the travel agency community and the traveling public. 

How does it work?

In 2004, IATA took the decision to phase out paper tickets by June 2008 as part of its “Simplify the Business” initiative. It was a time of great upheaval in the airline business as carriers big and small scrambled to convert their ticketing
systems from paper to digital tickets - all at once, and in a short period of time - competing for scarce IT resources to achieve the changeover. 

At the same time, airlines were winnowing the number of interline agreements they had in force - paring the number of agreements while trying to retain the bulk of the previous interline revenues. Inevitably, in this process some small and medium carriers were “squeezed out” by larger airlines; and some larger airlines realized they had gaps in their worldwide Interline coverage. 

APG and Heli Air Monaco stepped in to offer both second and third party ticketing opportunities to all types of airlines to help recapture lost interline revenues. 

2nd Party Ticketing 

APG IET was primarily developed to give ARC accredited travel agents access to airlines that were not currently ARC members - by participating in APG’s IET - through ticket validation on Heli Air Monaco (YO). We call this “second party ticketing.” Carriers from all corners of the world including Luxair (LX), Air Madagascar (MD), Lao Airlines
(QV), Shenzhen Airlines (ZH) and Air Caraibes (TX) are available to ARC travel agents via validation on Heli Air Monaco.

3rd Party Ticketing 

APG IET also gives agents the ability to issue airline segments
between carriers that do not have an IET agreement between each other individually, but do have an IET agreement with Heli Air Monaco (YO). For example, Darwin Airline (F7), has an IET agreement with Heli Air Monaco, but does not have an IET agreement with Ethiopian Airlines (ET). Multi carrier (3rd party) itineraries on Darwin Airline and Ethiopian Airlines can be constructed, booked and ticketed on Heli Air Monaco (YO), generating a sale for all parties concerned. 

How does an Interline E-Ticketing agreement differ from a Codeshare agreement?

An Interline E-Ticketing agreement is actually a part of every Codeshare Agreement. Interline E-Ticketing is the basic building block of the interline cooperation process between airlines - permitting carriers to seamlessly exchange passengers, tickets and baggage from one airline to the next. 

Step two in the Interline cooperation hierarchy is a Special Prorate Agreement (SPA), which is an agreement among two airlines working together by one or each giving the other airline a preferential fare on its portion of the Interline carriage. 

Step three of the Interline relationship is a Codeshare Agreement - which is a much closer relationship involving both steps one and two above, plus the placing of each other’s brand and flight number on the flight or flights of the two carriers. 

What is Heli Air Monaco’s role in the APG-IET Program? 

Founded in 1976, Heli Air Monaco (YO) is the “validating carrier” platform of the APG IET program. YO is E-Ticketing capable in the Sabre, Amadeus, Worldspan and Apollo GDSs, and accepts Visa, MasterCard, American Express and the UATP credit cards.

US travel agents can get additional information from the APG IET travel agent portal (www.apgiet.com). Here, travel agents can find Ticketing, GDS and Credit Card payment guidelines. The website lists all our airline partners and affords continuous communication with travel agents. There is also an Online tool to see all YO-747 IET connections. 

YO is a real airline, based in Monaco, that operates 50
shuttle flights per day between Nice and Monaco, carrying over 100,000 passengers per annum. 

How do these IET agreements benefit and assist travel agents?

These IET Agreements enable travel agents to a) book and ticket airlines not in ARC on Heli Air Monaco (YO) documents (2nd party ticketing) and b) book and ticket itineraries on two airlines not having interline agreements with each other, but who do have agreements with Heli Air Monaco (3rd party ticketing). In each instance, the number of airlines and itineraries available to travel agents is expanded, giving the travel agent a wider array of air choices to sell. 

How do these agreements benefit and assist  travelers?

Through APG’s IET program, there exists a wider array of air services for travel agents to safely sell - translating to a greater number and choice of air services that are available to the traveling public. 

How do travel agents gain access to and utilize APG IET?

APG IET, through Heli Air Monaco (YO) is available in all major GDSs currently in use in the USA, including Sabre, Amadeus, Apollo and Worldspan. 

Are there any criteria a travel agent needs to meet?

The travel agent must be an ARC accredited travel agent. 

How many airlines currently participate in this Interline Electronic Ticketing agreement? 

Ninety-two airlines currently participate in the APG IET program worldwide.

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