Airlines scrap agent’s commission, all tickets become costlier (Lead, changing dateline)

November 1st, 2008 - 6:29 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 1 (IANS) Airlines operating in India scrapped the five percent agent’s commission on tickets, beginning Saturday, and replaced it with a transaction fee for all tickets, irrespective of whether they were booked through an agent or not.Airlines like Air India, Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, Kingfisher, Etihad and Qatar Airways have withdrawn the commission on tickets sold by agents, while British Airways, Emirates, Gulf Air, Oman Air, Sri Lankan Airlines and Malaysia Airlines have decided to retain it.

An official of a carrier here told IANS that the commission regime would be replaced by a transaction fee upon which both the airlines and the travel agents have reached an agreement.

The transaction fee, a minimum of Rs.350 for domestic and a maximum of Rs.10,000 for international passengers, will be denoted as “other charges” on the ticket, the official said.

According to O.P. Bahadur, a senior official of the Travel Services International (TSI) - a city-based travel and ticket agency and one of the eight big travel companies across the country that make up the Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) - airlines will pay travel agents the transaction fee on air tickets booked by them.

“Air tickets booked through airline websites or their offices too would attract transaction fee but that fee will be earned by the airline,” Bahadur added.

About 85 percent of airline bookings in India are done through travel agents, including online agencies.

Travel agents were demanding postponement of the airlines’ move to write off the commission, but the latter stuck to their decision.

Protesting against the airlines’ decision, travel agents in Kerala Saturday stopped selling tickets of those operators which withdrew the commission.

IATA Agents Association of India national president Biji Eapen said the boycott was total, and all big and small agents had joined the protest.

“The biggest loser in this mode of selling tickets is the passengers, who will now have to pay a higher amount because the airlines will collect the full fare from them. And the biggest gainer would be the airlines, who will now add the five percent (commission amount) to their kitty,” said Eapen.

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