By Jimoh Babatunde
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has launched an IATA Billing Settlement Plan (BSP) in Ghana starting 1 August 2009. The BSP operation brings new efficiency to the relationship between travel agents and airlines by providing a one_stop standardized interface. 11 airlines and 21 travel agents are currently participating in the Ghana BSP programme.
The introduction of BSP operations in Ghana will ease the selling, reporting and payment for ticket sales for participating travel agents and airlines.
Prior to the implementation of the BSP, agents had to interact directly with each of the respective airlines for the sales reporting and payment remittance process, which is costly, time_consuming and often inefficient from an administrative perspective.
With the start_up of the BSP, both airlines and travel agents now receive only one sales report. Travel agents will only need to make one payment to the airlines via the BSP by a pre_determined date. Airlines will then receive their payment from the BSP.
IATA recognizes the support and co_operation of the industry comprising of airlines, travel agents, agency association officials, local industry groups, global distribution systems and the BSP clearing bank which were integral to the success of the launch.
There are currently 25 BSPs operational in Africa.Â In South Western Africa, the BSP in Nigeria was launched in July 2008 and there are plans to introduce BSP operations in other South Western African countries.
The first BSP started in Japan in 1971. Today, IATA BSPs operate in some 160 countries and territories.Â Â About US$240 billion was settled in BSPs in 2008.
IATA has 3 field offices in Africa, including an office in Lagos responsible for South Western Africa. The regional office for Africa is in Johannesburg.