Travel agents to down shutters Thursday against airlines’ move to abolish commissions

August 13th, 2008 - 6:01 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 13 (IANS) Travel agents across the country will down shutters Thursday to protest against a move by air operators to stop paying commissions on travel bookings, Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) said Wednesday. “We want the airlines to feel and realise that travel agents are indispensable for the aviation industry,” TAFI president Praveen Chugh told IANS.

The protest comes in the wake of an announcement by air operators in India that they would not avail of the services of travel agents from November 1.

Airlines have decided to implement zero commission for travel agents owing to high fuel and operational costs.

At present, India’s state-owned carrier, Air India and a few other private carriers pay a five percent commission to their registered travel agents.

Chugh said over 2,860 travel agents who are members of the Indian Air Transport Association (IATA) - they are authorised to issue tickets - and over 50,000 other travel agents would shut down their shops Thursday.

Over 300,000 people are directly linked with this business in India, the TAFI said.

“The airlines will be overloaded with work as we are not working tomorrow. Air tickets will not be issued on 15 August and the weekend, all these days being holidays,” Chugh said.

Travel agents have already urged airlines to reconsider their policy. But airlines have confirmed that their decision in this regard was final.

“All our ticketing offices will be open all days this week. International tickets are booked in advance and so are the domestic tickets,” explained Jitendra Bhargava, spokesperson for Air India.

“The passengers would do well to log on to the web portals of airlines and book the tickets themselves,” said Bhargava and pointed out that the zero commission policy was in tune with the policy followed abroad by international airlines as well.

“It seems everybody has been making money except airlines. Why should travel agents be paid for doing nothing,” complained an airline official.

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