KAHINI CHAKRABORTY – Mumbai
With the Supreme Court passing an order wherein airlines have been directed to not charge transaction fee in any form while selling tickets on both domestic and international sectors, the travel associations- TAAI, TAFI said that they will approach the Supreme Court shortly seeking a review on the directive. At the press conference organised yesterday to address the issue, travel agents expressed their views by stating that the ban on transaction fee would be detrimental for the sector and their business which has been already affected by the impact of reducing the commissions from nine per cent to one per cent. “The travel associations have made representations to the airlines to immediately restore our legitimate remuneration. We have also appealed to Ajit Singh, secretary, ministry of civil aviation and DGCA to intervene in the matter and issue suitable directions. We have also written to Air India and Jet Airways apart from low cost carriers on the issue. If our plea is not answered then we will take to legal proceedings to fight for restoring our legitimate remuneration rights,” said Iqbal Mulla, president, TAAI.
Zakkir Ahmed, president, TAFI added, “The government has to take us into consideration and give the travel agents the remuneration they deserve for the services rendered by them to passengers.” The travel agents were of the unanimous opinion that since 85 per cent of the ticketing is done through travel agents, apart from facilitating other services such as visa and forex requirements, the absence of transaction fee will lead to massive unemployment as all costs are borne out of such fees.
It must be noted that earlier airlines used to remunerate travel agents for selling tickets, but since 2008, 16 major airlines operating to/from India stopped remunerating agents. Thereafter three Indian carriers reinstated three per cent commission and in 2012 Air India along with Jet Airways introduced a hybrid module of one per cent commission and fixed transaction fee on the domestic and international routes. The high court recently also passed a verdict, on an appeal filed by TAAI and TAFI, that airlines must sort the issue of commission payable to travel agents in India. Even though representations on the same have been made by TAAI to the airlines there has been no concrete results. Besides, TAAI has also filed a petition in the apex court against cartelisation by foreign airlines in India against reducing commission payable to travel agents from five per cent to zero.