A number of travel agency groups, including the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies, are engaged in an 11th-hour attempt to postpone the demise of paper tickets. IATA has said that after May 31, paper tickets no longer will be processed through its billing and settlement plans.

The deadline does not affect travel agencies in the U.S., whose ticket sales are processed through the Airlines Reporting Corp.

The issue is of particular concern to travel agencies in Canada's northern regions, where a number of small carriers either do not issue electronic tickets or do not have interline e-ticket agreements.

ACTA and other worldwide travel agency association representatives, including the WTAAA and UFTAA umbrella organizations, met with IATA and member airlines in Geneva on April 23 to make their case.

ACTA presented a petition signed by 1,256 Canadian travel agents opposing the elimination of paper tickets until all workarounds are in place for carriers that will not meet the deadline and for unresolved situations such as tickets for infants and groups.

The agent representatives also collectively requested that IATA delay the implementation of 100% electronic ticketing until September to give time to all parties to find solutions for such transactions.

However, ACTA said, IATA declined to discuss the topic because it was sub judice as a result of ACTA's filing of a Complaint and Request for Review by Tribunal to the Canadian Competition Bureau.

In the U.K., the Advantage Traveler Centres and the Scottish Passenger Agents' Association asked the Business Travel Coalition to circulate a referendum that also asks IATA for a delay. Agency associations in India and New Zealand have indicated that they will sign it.

IATA's original deadline for "100% electronic ticketing" was last Dec. 31. The deadline was extended to give smaller carriers and those in less developed parts of the world additional time to make the transition.

IATA has emphatically stated that there will be no further extensions. IATA also revised its "100%" goal to a more realistic 96.5% by the end of May. The remaining 3.5%, representing about 18 million tickets, would be addressed through various workarounds, IATA said. Absent those workarounds, the elimination of paper tickets would force travel agencies to set up direct payment methods with airlines that do not issue electronic tickets.