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Through innovation and technology, the APG network has expanded over its 25-years history to become a key partner and a powerful platform in the airline distribution environment, offering outsourced services in passenger sales and marketing, reservations, finance, and accounting, fare filing and consulting, writes WOLE SHADARE
APG Network, the World’s Leading Network of Airline Representatives on May 27, 2022, celebrated APG DAY all around the world.
Once a year, on May 27 which corresponds to APG Airlines’ IATA code (GP 275), all APG offices in 170 countries throughout the world mark the day with activities for charitable causes, events with local travel agents, and many other activities linked to the unique theme for that year.
This Year the theme is “Let’s Reconnect”. APG DAY is an idea that was developed some years ago to stop the world for a day on APG time.
“Our added value for thirty years is our global network made up of all our offices in 170 countries, which join together on APG Day to celebrate our annual theme. After 2 years of challenging times, our global network is back in business stronger than ever so this year: Let’s Reconnect”, says Sandrine de Saint Sauver, ACEO & President APG INC.
APG Interline Electronic Ticketing Agreements (IET) Nigeria event which was held in Lagos had in attendance trade partners made up of travel agents, travel management companies, and travel enthusiasts on how to use technology to enhance their business and how they can reconnect the travel business that was hampered or slowed down by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chairman of APG Nigeria, Mr. Femi Adefope who took the trade partners through many of the advantages the organization had had in their business said APG, being a global organization is celebrated every year.
“We did it last year but we did not have as much publicity and of course, our people in Paris; in getting over this challenge, we have not been able to issue tickets. They wanted APG’s products highlighted and to indicate the large network that we have. We work with airlines and also with distribution agencies. It is not the first time we are having this.”
“You remember the New Distribution Capabilities (NDC) with different airlines. Even locally, airlines have started moving to the NDC. Lufthansa has been working with NDC for some time. Various airlines have been moving. They compliment. The biggest challenge with the GDS as far as airlines are concerned is the cost”.
The new NDC according to Adefope is not as expensive as working through the Global Distribution System (GDS) because all the costs are shared.
He also noted that it is also beneficial in terms of remittances because they are web-based, noting, “ You have to effect payment however in web-based payment. For example, if you are ordering from JUMIA for example, you can pay in Naira and if it is some website offshore, you can pay in foreign currencies. It has become a global facility that is the reason”.
Facilitator of travel
He disclosed that APG is a facilitator for travel and one that is assisting airlines, adding that for example, the airlines’ products abroad like Rwandair don’t have a lot of offices globally but if they are part of the APG network, travel agencies in those countries can sell RwandAir products.
He noted that they do not need to have offices everywhere; the reason is that they work with about 200 airlines, citing the example of an airline from South Africa that just appointed APG as their offline GSA in six European countries.
Those people in South Africa can book with the airline to different destinations and pay over there when they arrive. They can just go and board the flight. We are hoping that Air Peace will eventually sign up with us so that we can represent Air Peace abroad in over 100 countries that we have such that anyone who wants to come to Nigeria; if they arrive in Lagos and Air Peace only operates to Dubai and Johannesburg. We are still working on it. Air Peace has not completed the process. We are hoping that they would do so very soon”, he added
APG IET gives the travel agencies the facility to issue a much wider range of airlines and flight combinations than would otherwise be available via your GDS.
APG IET allows travel agencies to ticket a wide range of airlines not present on their local BSP and flight combinations with airlines where no interline agreements exist.
Notable carriers on the APG IET platforms aside from other global channels are South African Airways, South African Airways, FlyDubai, Kenya Airways, Middle East Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, Rwandair, Thai Airways, Turkish Airlines, French Bee, Egypt Air, ASKY, Air Seychelles, Air Algerie, Air Namibia.
Others are Air Panama, Air Burkina, Avianca, Bangkok Airways, Cabo Verde Airlines, Fiji Airways, Hong Kong Airlines, and Malaysian Air among over a hundred others. APG IET
As beneficial as the APG IET platform is, some unscrupulous powerful travel agents from outside the country, particularly from India like Satguru, Wahiguru, Blueberry and others are taking advantage to rip-off, off genuine local travel agents.
They don’t have a stake in the economy of Nigeria and they are using the opportunities provided by different airlines to do Sold Outside Ticketed Outside (SOTO) tickets. It means an airline ticket that has been bought and issued from a country that doesn’t feature in the travel itinerary.
For example, if a UK traveler buys their ticket in the UK but they’re traveling from New York to Los Angeles that will be a SOTO ticket. With regards to the location of these operations relative to the origin of the traveler, tickets may also be Sold Inside Ticketed Inside (SITI), Sold Inside Ticketed Outside (SITO), or Sold Outside Ticketed Inside (SOTI), specifying inside or outside.
Your airline ticket is a SOTO, SITO, SOTI, or SITI ticket will make a big difference when it comes to fares. Due to special fare construction rules and regulations, tickets sold outside the origin country (SOTO) will incur additional fees.
“I have spoken to a few of my colleagues to say enough is enough. You cannot come into the country and start sabotaging us economically. They are the same group of people doing everything wrong at the Port, trying to export things illegally and unethical practices. That is our biggest challenge at this point in time and they are big. Their customer base is not here in Nigeria”.
Their customer base is outside of Nigeria. They are taking advantage of the currency situation. That is what they do. It is an area the CBN has not taken action on because nobody came up to complain but we the indigenous travel agencies are concerned and we are saying private companies in Nigeria should work on local content, and deal with Nigerian travel companies who are not here to sabotage our economy or take advantage of them.
“It is a major challenge. A lot of airlines have stopped selling SOTO tickets because these companies who are some of the top performers are doing it to service other countries because those tickets don’t even come to Nigeria. They sell them through Burundi and some other places”, Adefope said.
Despite the hiccups, the industry has recovered. It is about 70 percent of where it was in 2019. Business travel was the slowest to recover for obvious reasons.