AirAsia yanks its flight tickets from Traveloka

The airline and online travel agent are going through more than a rough patch.

The budget airline AirAsia has stopped selling tickets through Indonesian ticketing and hotel booking portal Traveloka. The decision was announced by AirAsia Indonesia CEO Dendy Kurniawan at a press conference yesterday. AirAsia tickets had previously disappeared from the site briefly between February 14 and 17 this year. According to Kurniawan, Traveloka did not provide any explanation regarding the incident.

“We were patient enough to wait for an official explanation but there was not any statement from Traveloka about the loss of our tickets at the platform,” Kurniawan said.

The decision came after the disappearance of AirAsia tickets from Traveloka’s system on March 2. AirAsia had sent five letters to the travel booking platform, but did not receive any answers. “This hurts the business relations with Traveloka,” Kurniawan said. “They refused to give an official explanation even though we repeatedly sought clarification. For this reason, we effectively suspend all AirAsia Group flight sales in six countries on Traveloka.”

Although Kurniawan remains optimistic that AirAsia’s business will not be disrupted, he agreed that the existence of online travel agents such as Traveloka do function as vendors for the airline. Even so, for the time being, Kurniawan suggests that customers purchase AirAsia flight tickets directly from the airline’s own website or mobile app.

In February, when AirAsia tickets were pulled from Traveloka and tiket.com, AirAsia commerce director Rifai Taberi told local press that he he felt there were “indications of unfair competition”, so that online travel agencies were put under pressure to remove AirAsia’s tickets from their sites. He also suggested that the current business climate in Indonesia’s aviation industry was not conducive to competition.

In October 2016, the same phenomenon happened to Garuda Indonesia’s tickets, which disappeared from Traveloka. It was initially rumoured that Garuda wanted customers to book tickets directly with the airline, but the airline quickly clarified that it was “conducting business consolidation related to cooperation commitment for the airlines ticket distribution channel on Traveloka website.” The consolidation was expected to improve business cooperation between the two companies.

Responding to AirAsia’s latest move, Traveloka public relations director Sufintri Rahayu said that Traveloka is always prioritising sustainable cooperation with all stakeholders and partners, and that the company “regrets” the airline’s decision. Rahayu added that Traveloka is reaching out to AirAsia to determine the “best solution for both parties.”

Editor: Brady Ng