FACE TO FACE04 October 2013 00:00
Airlines based outside of their home country often turn to general sales agents (GSAs) to help them sell and market themselves overseas. Travel Daily caught up with APG’s new president Richard Burgess to see what is new at the company and the challenges faced by its airline clients.
Interview online on TravelDaily UK/
Firstly, what is new at APG?
A major change for APG this spring and for me personally was my appointment as president of APG Network following the decision by Jean-Louis Baroux, the founder of APG, to step down after over 20 years.
It comes at an exciting time for APG as we further commercialise our network which has seen strong results already this year with unprecedented levels of new agreements and airline clients.
Which airlines does APG work with?
Across our product range, APG has more than 200 airline clients, with over 150 using our IBCS “pay as you go” BSP entry product which we developed with IATA over 10 years ago.
In addition, we now also have fast approaching 100 airlines on our APG IET platform.
APG, whilst a large organisation itself, partners with airlines of all sizes, sometimes in single markets, but more often in multiple markets where airlines are seeking distribution across an entire region.
How does APG work with travel agents and what services do you offer them?
Travel agents are an essential part of the distribution strategies that we establish for our airline clients.
All of our products are based on the involvement of the travel agent in an airline’s distribution structure, be that BSP participation or representation services.
In return, many of our services are beneficial for travel agents in so much as they allow tickets to be issued on a much wider range of airlines, particularly via our APG IET product.
Can you please tell us a bit more about the IET programme?
APG IET acts as a central “hub” allowing itineraries of multiple airlines to be ticketed where the airlines involved do not have ticketing agreements with each other.
APG IET also allows many airlines to be ticketed in BSPs where they are not present. IATA travel agents simply ticket such itineraries on the APG IET code “YO” which is a BSP participant in almost all BSPs worldwide, and APG IET acts as the intermediary.
APG IET is supported worldwide by the APG network which offers local help, training and advice globally.
What are the main challenges are you finding that your partners are up against at the moment?
The main issues for our airline clients continue to be rising costs and reducing yields.
Fortuitously for airlines, our key products are all based on a variable cost structure meaning costs are directly linked to results.
In almost all cases, our services have brought our clients reduced distribution costs and typically we achieve higher than network average yields as we are targeting markets more remote from their home markets where there is less pressure on yields.
What are your thoughts on IATA’s NDC?
As a new “hot topic” I believe many in the travel industry are still assessing the potential and ramifications of this new project which is aimed at standardising the data formats to bring ancillary options which are now offered by some airlines and which are already available through certain airline web sites, into the BSP and travel agent distribution channel.
Stakeholders are keen to be involved to ensure that they have their say in a project which has the potential to heavily influence the shape of airline product distribution in the future.
NDC has split opinion in some circles, particularly amongst GDSs and also in some travel agent and consumer lobbying groups, but in any event it certainly plants the spade in the soil for the next phase of airline product distribution and, as a key player in airline distribution, APG will be watching the development of NDC going forward.