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Expert’s vlog, Part 2 of 5: Relaxing restrictions so passengers have more flexibility tomorrow


How can the world’s airlines and channels find help from ATPCO to cope with today’s situation? Here are some insights from ATPCO’s Head of Asia Pacific Sam Lau.

Welcome to the second episode of the five-part series, where you will hear from our regional industry experts on handling the effects of the pandemic.

In this interview you will learn about developments in Asia and when you can start using an automated solution to handle restrictions on previously issued tickets.


Welcome to the expert's vlog series, COVID-19 edition and virtual edition, where we interview ATPCO experts for their unique perspective on industry challenges. 

I'm Andrea Bonaiuto, ATPCO vlog host sitting in New York City, and with me today is Sam Lau, Head of Asia Pacific. Sam has been working in various segments of the airline industry for over 30 years, and we're excited to have him here today, calling in all the way from Singapore.

Welcome, Sam. 

Thank you, Andrea. 

Now, Sam, as the APAC region is the first to slowly return to this new normal, what is at the top of airlines' minds right now? How would you describe the current state? 

Well, dear industry colleagues, I hope that you are well and safe. We are not quite out of the woods yet due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in border closures and flight restrictions. Travel demand fell by 80 percent. IATA projected a couple of weeks ago a 314 billion dollar loss over 2019, which represented a 55 percent decline. One-third of this amount is attributed to Asia Pacific airlines. Airlines are clearly in survival mode and cash flow is a priority, and it is encouraging to see that governments are stepping up with financial support and loans. 

That said, stakeholders are forming post-COVID-19 strategies, and some countries and territories have begun gradually lifting restrictions. Domestic services as well will be the first to show growth, and they are showing signs of a pickup. 

That is fantastic. That's some good news on the horizon. And in our last interview, we talked to Chris Phillips, Head of Global Accounts at ATPCO. He mentioned ATPCO's major implementation to help the industry with capabilities that will enable airlines to offer its passengers more flexibility. Can you tell us a bit more about this? 

Sure. As a result of flight cancellations and border closures, many ticketed customers are holding on to tickets purchased earlier, and these tickets need to be revalidated. So there are two immediate challenges which we need to address: number one, ticket validity. These may require extensions, and the industry, with IATA, came up with automated solutions to allow for the validity of tickets to be extended. 

Secondly, tickets with restrictive conditions that are non-changeable and non-refundable need to be relaxed. ATPCO is now ready to roll out the emergency flexibility for changes to fare rule conditions on existing tickets, a solution which offers each airline the ability to amend change and refund provisions on previously issued tickets to offer passengers greater flexibility during extraordinary events such as COVID-19. 

The industry adoption date for the subscribers is scheduled to be on the 7th of June but airlines can begin their filings commencing May 17th. 

Very good. And now, what impact will this have on airlines, channels, and their customers? 

Well, we believe that these capabilities will help airlines offer their passengers more flexibility when they need to change or refund an issued ticket, and give greater efficiencies and accuracy for the airlines as well. 

Very good. And what resources are available for airlines and channels to get up to speed on implementing these changes? 

Well, ATPCO has been working hard with airlines and systems to address these two issues. The new change and refund capability will be implemented 17th of May, and I encourage airlines to watch the webinar recording of this topic and explore training and other resources on our Customer Center. 

Wonderful! Thank you so much, Sam. 

And to everyone watching, we'd love to stay connected. Please reach out to us with any questions and visit ATPCO's Customer Center for more learning resources. 

Stay tuned for the next episode, and of course, stay safe. 


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Sam Lau

About Sam Lau

Sam has worked with ATPCO for 22 years and in various segments of the industry for the past 34 years.

Before joining ATPCO, he led a strategic business unit for SITA and was responsible for expanding its presence and product portfolios for airline customers in Asia.

He also held regional management positions at Abacus during its formative years, and he was country manager for Air New Zealand in Singapore and commercial sales manager for Singapore Airlines.