May 13 - IATA Mystifies Over Privacy Obligations

BTC Asks Three Simple Questions

Brussels, Belgium, 13 May 2009 – Business Travel Coalition (BTC) today responded in disbelief that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) now insists its Passenger Intelligence Services (PaxIS) product is compliant with the new EU CRS Code of Conduct and was so from the date the new Code took effect on 29 March 2009. This latest position comes after recently arguing that the Code did not even apply to its organization.

In March, IATA emphatically told Aviation Daily that the Code did not apply to its PaxIS product. IATA dismissed BTC’s concerns out-of-hand and told the publication, “The concerns of the Business Travel Coalition appear to be misguided. Privacy is a concept applied to individuals, not commercial entities.”

In April, the European Commission confirmed in writing that IATA’s assertion was flatly wrong and IATA’s PaxIS product is indeed covered by the new Code, which was purposefully designed to shield the identification of travel agencies and corporations that purchase air transportation services except that the identity of the travel agency booking reservations may be disclosed if the travel agency specifically agrees to that disclosure.

Now, IATA insisted last week to Business Travel News in a grand and sweeping statement that its PaxIS product is compliant with the revised Code.

BTC chairman Kevin Mitchell asks IATA once again to answer three simple questions with respect to why it holds itself out as is in compliance with the Code: “One, does IATA insist it is compliant because it is masking travel agency identities? Two, if IATA is not masking travel agency identities, what specific document (dated after 29 March 20091) can it produce to prove IATA has the required consent for identification in marketing data for each travel agency in Europe? Three, can IATA confirm that it is masking in all cases the identity of the corporate purchasers of air travel?"

Mitchell noted that the IATA PaxIS product is an especially intrusive and troubling data product because unlike any other data product, PaxIS shows the average price of tickets sold on specific routes on airline competitors by specific travel agents.

1Editor’s note: The European Commission has indicated that an agreement that permits travel agencies to be identified cannot be based on a contract executed prior to the new 29 March Code of Conduct, unless said agreement expressly includes a term on the acceptance by the travel agency to be identified in marketing data.

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