TAAI takes commission fight to MPs

Mumbai: Failing to get any respite from the aviation ministry on their demand to enhance agency fee to 5 percent, the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) has approached the law makers to intervene in the issue.

TAAI has been demanding increase in their commission to 5 percent from the present 1 percent as it is necessary to make the business viable.

“We approached the Civil Aviation Ministry and the regulator DGCA but to no avail. Now, we have written to some MPs and MLAs to take up our cause with the government and get us justice,” TAAI president Iqbal Mulla told PTI here.

Stating that the lawmakers have “assured” them of taking up their demand with the authorities concerned, Mulla warned that if no solution comes out, the association will have to look at legal recourse.

“The reduction in commission is hurting the overall business and if it continues, about 50 percent of the travel agents may have to exit the business,” he said.

At the height of the global meltdown, many airlines, including the Singapore Airlines, British Airways and Lufthansa, abolished the 5 percent agency fees as part of cost-cutting measures and asked travel agents to charge a transaction fee from passengers buying tickets.

The move met with stiff opposition from agents with several of them even boycotting these airlines.

Toeing the line of international carriers, domestic airlines Air India, Kingfisher and Jet too announced a similar move but following intense pressure from the lobby restored the commission, though at a lower 3 percent.

In June, however, Air India, Jet and Gulf-based Etihad again triggered the issue by reducing it to 1 percent. Earlier, in a letter to the regulator, TAAI had urged it to direct airlines to pay 5 percent commission to them.

Alleging that the overseas carriers had singled out domestic travel agents, it said they continue to pay 9 percent fees to travel agent in other countries, as per the IATA guidelines.

As per IATA norms, travel agents were paid 9 percent fees till 2000 and from 2001 onwards it was reduced to 7 percent and subsequently to five percent.