Airlines see sharp rise in unruly passengers, says IATA

Airlines have seen a sharp rise in unruly passengers in 2015, according to a recent report by IATA.

Incidents of people getting in fights, being verbally abusive or refusing to follow cabin crew orders were up by 17%. Alcohol or drug use was identified as a factor in one in four incidents, though in the vast majority of instances these were consumed prior to boarding or from personal supply without knowledge of the crew. In 11% of cases, there was physical aggression or even damage to the aircraft.

Of the 265 airlines represented by IATA, 40% have diverted a flight in the past 12 months due to an unruly passenger.

IATA assistant director, Tom Colehan, said frustrations with the journey, including long security lines could be triggers. “I don’t think anybody knows exactly the reason driving the rise,” he said. “Perhaps it’s just reflective of societal changes where anti-social behaviour is more prevalent and perhaps more accepted.”

“The increase in reported incidents tells us that more effective deterrents are needed,” says Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General, adding that more governments need to adopt the Montreal Protocol 2014, which allows airlines to seek compensation from rowdy passengers.

In some countries there has been a focus on the role of alcohol as a trigger for disruptive behavior. De Juniac explains airlines already have strong guidelines and crew training on the responsible provision of alcohol. He says: “IATA is supporting initiatives, such as the code of practice pioneered in the UK, which includes a focus on prevention of intoxication and excessive drinking prior to boarding. Staff in airport bars and duty-free shops must be trained to serve alcohol responsibly and there is a need to avoid offers that encourage so-called ‘binge drinking’.”

Evidence from an initiative by Monarch Airlines at London’s Gatwick Airport has shown instances of disruptive behavior can be cut 50% with this pro-active approach before passengers’ board.

According to de Juniac, the industry believes that adopting this cooperative voluntary approach is preferable to heavy-handed regulation and licensing.

visa europe

Will SA travellers no longer need a visa to travel to Europe?

South African travellers could soon be exempt from having to apply for a visa to travel to Europe, as Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba entered into negotiations with European Union Ambassador Dr. Marcus Cornaro on immigration-related issues between South Africa and Europe.

Amongst the issues discussed were the feasibility of multiple-entry visas for SA business people to the EU and full exemptions for South African leisure travellers. Long-term multiple-entry visas for students, academics and trusted travellers were also discussed as well as diplomatic visa agreements.

Minister Gigaba said: “We discussed future arrangements for visa exemptions for ordinary SA passport holders in the EU. We made it clear that this was our top prize, but we are prepared to have a gradual approach.”

For South African travellers and travel agents, the scrapping of the visa requirements would obviously be fantastic news,” says Hayley Walls, Marketing Manager Thompsons Travel.

She explains that South African travellers are often deterred by visa requirements, which they feel are troublesome. “They’ll opt for visa-free destinations such as Thailand, because they want to avoid the hassle of having to obtain a visa. So, if the EU were to scrap their visa requirements, that would without a doubt influence the decision-making process in favour of Europe,” she says.

Theresa Szejwallo, MD of TravCorp South Africa, agrees and says visa are a major obstacle for travellers and have had a severe impact on travel the UK especially. She says: “Trafalgar have managed to work their way around to the UK visa by changing our entire offering of a round-trip of Europe which would traditionally start and end in London, to starting and ending in Europe.”

“Scrapping visa requirements to Europe would be a ‘game-changer’ for South African travellers,” says Szejwallo. She adds that Trafalgar would be able to more competitive in the South African market. “We would immediately see an increase in our guided holidays into UK and Europe if there was a visa exemption.

Australian visa updates and clarifications

Ahead of the busy Christmas holiday period, the Australian High Commission would like to remind and clarify some visa procedures for all travel agents dealing with travellers to Australia:

Christmas processing times:

Please advise applicants to apply well in advance for their visas if they want to travel over the peak period. It is advised that applicants lodge their visas on-line at: www.border.gov.au as this can be done after hours at a time convenient to applicants.

The advertised visa processing time is 20 working days or 1 month. Incomplete applications may be refused and late lodgements will cause delays and we will not give any guarantees that visas will be finalised on time. A confirmed airline ticket is not a visa requirement and emailing many weeks out does not influence our visa processing times.


Biometrics is a standard requirement for applicants applying from SAFR, please ensure that your applicants make appointments to do their biometrics. Biometrics are not uploaded immediately and takes approximately 3 days to reflect on the systems. Visas will not be finalised until biometrics have been captured and reflected on the systems. ETA passport holders who can lodge online are exempted from biometrics. For the list of ETA eligible passport holders, please see: http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa-1/601-

Compassionate and compelling applications:

It has come to the attention of the High Commission that many applicants, agents and courier companies mark emails sent to the immigration box as “urgent.” Their “urgent” refers to a flight booking or travel date approaching etc. These are not considered by the High Commission as “urgent” reasons for travel. A compassionate/compelling reason for travel is what we consider “urgent.”

The definition of compassionate/compelling application refers to death in the family in Australia or terminal illness of a family member in Australia.  Please refrain from marking applications as “urgent” – when they clearly aren’t. Birthday parties, sporting events, weddings and an imminent flight are not urgent.

Compassionate applications need to be brought to our attention. Please write in the subject box “compassionate application, applicants reference number BCC2016/….. and advise what the reason for travel is for example:  Compassionate, death in the family, BCC2016/…….. – in this way the application is clearly identifiable and can be actioned appropriately.

Emails sent to case officers personal email addresses:

All email correspondence is to be sent to the immigration.pretoria@dfat.gov.au email address only and not to case officers personal email addresses. This causes double handling and takes away valuable visa processing time. There is no guarantee that emails sent to case officers will be responded to.

Immiaccount issues:

Please ensure that you do not choose the “postal option” when you load applications onto the immiaccount. The immiaccount is an online system and no documents are generated and sent to postal addresses. Please ensure that biodata is captured correctly on the immiaccount. We are finding issues with applicants not receiving emails as their email address is incorrect, dates of birth are incorrect as well as citizenship details. Correcting these issues is time consuming and will delay processing times. Authorised recipients also need to load their details and a completed form 956 onto the immiaccount system. If you are not the authorised recipient, we cannot release any information to you.”


South Africa heads up Global Travel Agent Alliance

The Association of Southern African Travel Agents will be at the helm of the World Travel Agents Association Alliance (WTAAA) with the appointment of ASATA CEO Otto de Vries as the global travel agent alliance’s Chairperson.

As the global voice of the travel agency distribution channel, WTAAA meets twice a year to discuss issues that impact the global travel agency industry and to share common problem-solving strategies.

ASATA has been at the forefront of many of the agendas represented on the global travel stage by WTAAA, including our involvement in the Passenger Agency Programme Global Joint Council (PAPGJC), the IATA ADM working group and addressing travel agency concerns with new generation ISS.

The PAPGJC, the premier consultative forum between Agents and Airlines, which is empowered to consider and make recommendations to the Passenger Agency Conference on all aspects of the Agency Programme, remains the pre-eminent platform to discuss, recommend and give input to resolutions that directly affect travel agents operating in the Agency Programme.

Key areas of focus for ASATA and the WTAAA have been, and will continue to be understanding the impact of IATA’s New Distribution Capability for travel agents, exploring options to overcome possible obstacles to successful NDC implementation, and addressing issues from the perspectives of large, medium and small agencies.

Furthermore, the IATA ADM Working Group, on which ASATA sits, aims to identify the root causes behind the issuing of ADMs with a view to reducing these through training and improved controls, which will greatly benefit all travel agents within South Africa.

“With our new role as chair of this global association comes the opportunity for ASATA to even further advance the needs of its travel agent membership in South Africa, placing us at the forefront of discussions and giving us an opportunity to influence policies that impact all levels of our membership, from agency owner right to the consultant.

“Our appointment as the Chair of WTAAA, which represents travel agency groupings in the USA, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Brazil, Australia, Asia and 31 European countries, is a testament to ASATA’s proactive and impactful contribution on the global travel agency stage. We look forward to championing the concerns and causes of not only our members, but the entire global travel agency community over the coming year,” concludes de Vries.


ASATA CEO wins Business Traveller Africa award

ASATA CEO Otto de Vries has won the Business Traveller Africa Business Travel Personality of the Year award for the third year in a row.

“Winning the award for the third time is a humbling experience both for myself and for the ASATA team, and I’m very honoured to accept this Award on behalf of the entire team,” says Otto de Vries, CEO.

Otto explains ASATA operates with a small team of five staff but is involved in all areas that directly or indirectly affect the trade and the ability of travel agents to do their work.

“Our team has been active on all issues that have affected the trade, from SAA to the Unabridged Birth Certificate, government procurement and dealings with Treasury. “However, we’ve also been proactive in ensuring that the trade continues to remain relevant. Our 21st Century Travel Agent Study is a prime example of that.

“In addition, consider our work with IATA on the ADM work group and our work with the APJC and many other projects, and you’ll get a sense of the profound impact on the industry and the sheer scale of work a small team can achieve.”

This Award will inspire ASATA to continue with its work and give its best for the industry. “Despite the challenges we face, this recognition from our peers clearly means we do something right,” he says.

South African Airways, Emirates, AHA, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Tourvest Travel Services and Europcar also emerged as the big winners at the event, held in association with Absa at the Maslow Hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg on 1 September 2016.

Both SAA and Emirates were ‘double’ winners, with SAA picking up the top award in the ‘Best African Regional Short-Haul Airline’ and ‘Best African Long-Haul Airline’ categories for the second year in a row. Also for the second year in a row, Emirates scooped the ‘Best Business Class’ Award, as well as the prize for the ‘Best International Long-Haul Airline’. Amadeus won the prize in the category of best GDS.

The ‘Best African Low-Cost Airline’ Award went to Comair’s Kulula for the second year, ahead of FlySafair, and Mango.

In the main hotel category, the ‘Best South African Hotel Group’ award went the way of AHA, taking over the torch from Tsogo Sun who received the award during the previous three years. Marriott walked away with the ‘Best International Hotel Group’ award, thanks in large to its significant South African presence through Protea. The Maslow Hotel was awarded with the award for the Best Business Hotel in South Africa.

This year, Carslon Wagonlit Travel was awarded ‘Best Travel Management Company’, edging out last year winner HRG Rennies Travel, as well as American Express Travel Services, BCD Travel and Travel with Flair.

Europcar scooped the ‘Best Car Rental Company’ title, holding off the challenge of Bidvest Car Rental, Avis, First and Hertz.

Launched in 2012 in association with Business Traveller Africa magazine, the awards ceremony is an event for the South African business travel trade, covering all aspects of business travel, including hotels, airlines, car rental and travel management, along with related categories such as travel credit card provider, foreign exchange, visas, private aviation and conferencing.

The full list of nominees and winners is as follows (in alphabetical order):

African Long-Haul Airline

  • Air Mauritius
  • Air Namibia
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • Kenya Airways
  • SAA (winner)

African Low-Cost Airline

  • FlySafair
  • Kulula (winner)
  • Mango

African Regional Short-Haul Airline

  • Airlink
  • Comair (BA & Kulula)
  • Mango
  • SAA (winner)
  • SA Express

Airport Business Lounge

  • Emirates (ORTIA – International)
  • SAA Baobab (ORTIA – International)
  • SLOW Lounge (ORTIA – Domestic)
  • SLOW Lounge (ORTIA – International) (winner)
  • Virgin Atlantic (ORTIA – International)

Business Class

  • British Airways
  • Emirates (winner)
  • Etihad
  • Qatar Airways
  • Virgin Atlantic

Business Hotel in SA

  • African Pride Crystal Towers
  • African Pride Melrose Arch
  • The Maslow Hotel (winner)
  • The Westin Cape Town

Car Rental Company

  • Avis
  • Bidvest Car Rental
  • Europcar (winner)
  • First Car Rental
  • Hertz

Forex Supplier

  • American Express Foreign Exchange (winner)
  • American Express Global Card
  • Bidvest Bank

Global Distribution System

  • Amadeus (winner)
  • Sabre
  • Travelport

International Hotel Group

  • Four Seasons
  • Hilton
  • Hyatt
  • Marriott (winner)
  • Starwood

International Long-Haul Airline

  • British Airways
  • Emirates (winner)
  • Lufthansa
  • Qatar Airways
  • Virgin Atlantic

Large Conference Venue

  • Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo Conference Centre
  • Cape Town International Convention Centre (winner)
  • Century City Conference Centre
  • International Convention Centre Durban
  • Sandton Convention Centre

Large Hotel Conference Venue

  • Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo Conference Centre
  • Century City Conference Centre
  • Indaba Hotel and Conference Centre
  • The Westin Cape Town (winner)

Luxury Hotel in SA

  • Michelangelo Hotel
  • One&Only Cape Town
  • Oyster Box (winner)
  • The Palazzo Hotel
  • Twelve Apostles

Private Aviation Operator

  • Comair Flight Services (winner)
  • ExecuJet
  • Federal Air
  • NAC

Small Conference Venue

  • FNB Conference Centre
  • The Forum Campus (winner)
  • The Forum Turbine Hall

Small Hotel Conference Venue

  • African Pride Melrose Arch
  • Sandton Lodge Rivonia
  • Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa (winner)

South African Hotel Group

  • AHA (winner)
  • City Lodge Hotels
  • Legacy Hotels & Resorts
  • Sun International
  • Tsogo Sun

Travel Credit Card Provider

  • American Express (winner)
  • Diners Club
  • MasterCard
  • Visa

Travel Management Company

  • American Express Travel Services
  • BCD Travel
  • Carlson Wagonlit Travel (winner)
  • HRG Rennies Travel
  • Travel with Flair

Travel Sales Team

  • Europcar
  • Thompsons Travel
  • Tourvest Travel Services (winner)

Visa Service Provider

  • MDS VisaPak
  • Visas & Passports Unlimited
  • Visas Direct
  • Visa Express
  • Visas International (winner)