ERA gives you plain fares

In an odd move, the European Regions Airlines Association (ERA) is leading an initiative to improve the transparency of prices on airline websites.


The ERA board approved at its annual general meeting in Barcelona on 28 September a resolution urging member and non member airlines to adhere to its recommendations for making clear on their websites how much tickets cost. Those airlines which adhere to the ERA standard for transparency of ticket prices will be permitted to publish a special logo unveiled by ERA at a press conference during its annual general meeting.


The logo (see below) looks similar to the ERA logo but instead of saying ERA it says “plain fares”. The ERA plans to later make the logo available in several foreign languages.


 


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ERA director of air transport policy Andy Clarke says the ERA decided to launch the initiative to mitigate passenger confusion caused by the omission of taxes and charges on some airline websites. Some airline websites do not display taxes and charges until the end of the transaction. To qualify for the “plain fares” logo, airlines must display a fully inclusive ticket price with equal prominence as the base fare. If the airline charges a booking or credit card fee for internet transactions, this fee must also be displayed prominently.


Clarke says the campaign is a step ahead of new European Union regulations which will take effect at the end of 2007.


The ERA is hoping other industry association will follow its lead and launch similar initiatives. “We cannot think of any precedence for this,” ERA president Mike Ambrose says. “We think the idea should be picked up by other associations and airlines that are not part of any association.”


But what value does this new ERA logo give passengers? ERA or any airline association does not have a recognisable brand outside the industry and ERA does not have the budget to launch a public awareness campaign. So what incentive does an airline have to listen to ERA, especially those that are not members and are even from different regions of the world?


Airline Business deputy editor Brendan Sobie asked Ambrose if it was unusual for an airline association to launch a campaign geared towards the passenger and he responded it was not only about building a profile for ERA with passengers but with the European Commission. “We want it to become a universally recognised hallmark,” he says.


We will have to see if airlines now rush to prove to ERA they are worthy of the catchy “plain fares” slogan.

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