The Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) regulates ticket sales and reports to the airlines for travel agencies and other ticket outlets and is a corporation owned by certain U.S. air carriers that collectively appoint U.S. travel agencies to represent participating air carriers. It further administers the Area Banks and Area Settlement Program which is a clearinghouse for agent reporting and the settlement of airline ticket sales. ARC became the successor corporation to the ATC, following the agent rights issues trial of ARTA vs. ATC in 1985. While some functions are similar to those of ATC, ARC is designed to operate without the limited antitrust immunity once possessed by ATC. The ARC corporation began formal operations on January 1. 1985.
The Airlines Reporting Corporation requires all travel agencies to apply for, and be granted, a 'travel agency appointment' prior to being allowed to sell air travel with airline ticket stock. This agency program binds the travel agent as an agent of the carrier. The agent may receive commissions by representing the airline in the sale of passenger transportation. ARC established its own criteria for which travel agents would be entrusted with its airline ticket stock paper and airline ticket printing plates. Various carriers have now established additional bonding and liability criteria.
The application for an appointment must be approved before operating as an appointed travel agency. ARC will not grant uniform ticket stock until the appointment is granted. ARC's services include: travel agency accreditation; ticket, and ticket number assignment, distribution and control; travel transaction reporting and financial settlement; new distribution technology development and support.
In 1995, ARC began to process and settle electronic tickets issued by ARC accredited travel agents through Computer Reservations Systems (CRS) now also known as Global Reservations Systems (GDS). The treatment accorded an electronic transaction by ARC is, for the most part, a mirror image of the function performed for the paper counter part with accountability residing with the electronic record of a document number rather than a numbered paper document. The sale of electronic tickets (or e-tickets) is steadily increasing in number and currently accounts for about half of all ARC processed travel agent transactions. However, in light of recent terrorist activities, e-tickets usage may become more restricted. Because these systems require telephone line transmission, frauds against carriers and ticketed through a GDS are prosecuted federally by the U.S. Attorneys office.
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