Air India in Hong Kong has withdrawn its January 11 verbal instruction to ticketing agents that only the American Express credit card will be accepted as the Form of Payment (FOP).
This follows Hong Kong’s Society of IATA Passenger Agents (SIPA) seeking “formal notice” and clarification from the airline on January 17.
Air India replied on February 4 that “the concerns are appreciated and escalated to the highest level” and that “it is pertinent to note that due to an urgent development, certain decisions were taken at appropriate level to safeguard Air India’s interest”.
Air India also expressed “regret” for inconveniences and assured ticketing agents of a “continuous and mutual beneficial relationship with us”.
While SIPA acknowledged Air India’s position, association chairman Tommy Tam said the unprecedented action and “very poor handling of the communications surrounding this dramatic halt of the IATA BSP reporting/remitting process” had frustrated members.
Tam also pointed out that “no effort was made to seek the understanding of agents” or “any hint given that this was a temporary measure pending a resolution”.
SIPA also expressed disappointment that Air India delegated the serious matter to subordinates “who gave no assurances or comfort to agents, implying “Air India has scant regard for its IATA agency customers and places little or no value on our members’ support”.
A senior SIPA member commented: “Given Air India’s transition to new owners, this unprecedented action should have been better managed. Tata’s biggest challenge is the indifferent staff culture both in India and abroad.”
He continued: “Air India needs to reach out to IATA agents, sincerely apologise for this nonsense and build bridges especially, in the face of stiff competition from IndiGo, Spice Jet, Vistara and Cathay Pacific plus sooner or later, Greater Bay Airlines.”