THE CIVIL Aviation Administration of China will soon relax regulations to allow foreign GDS companies to sell air tickets in China.
According to sources whom TTG Asia e-Daily spoke to, the new ruling will apply only to international flights operated by foreign carriers. Airlines will also have to send in individual nominations for their travel agent partners.
Bart Tompkins, managing director of Amadeus China, said: “All airlines with domestic and international bookings (in and out of China) currently have to operate via TravelSky. What this new regulation will do is allow, for the first time, an international GDS to operate (air ticketing) inside of China.”
“Though we expect (the new ruling) to be announced very shortly, the effective day will still be a few months away,” he added.
Playing down the impact on the travel trade, Tompkins said: “It will not be a huge ‘big bang’, but will be a gradual process as the market evolves and we begin to offer our products more widely."
A Chinese travel consultant who declined to be name said: “Normally, airlines do not have to apply individually for each (booking by a) travel consultant (partner). One of the effects (of the new ruling) will be the slowing down of the entire process. This will cause foreign GDSs to be less effective for agents to use, but in the long run it is a good step forward."
James Leung, managing director, Century Holiday International Travel Service Shenzhen, said: “We are console agents who work with airlines directly, so it won’t change the way we do business."
"However, this will benefit SMEs (travel consultants) who are non-IATA members," he said. "In the past, they had to book through us console agents, but once the new ruling is implemented, they will be able to go directly to the source. I don’t see it as new competition, though, as China is such a huge market.”