As ETTravelWorld reported earlier, IATA Agents Association of India (IAAI), the national trade association of IATA accredited travel agents in the country, has launched a mass e-signature campaign to get, as they claim, the legitimate agents’ commission which is mandated by the statutes, reinstated. Launching the e-signature campaign, IAAI Governing Board has called upon the travel agents community and the travel and tourism industry stakeholders in the country to join the campaign to support the survival of the travel agents community in the country.
Air ticketing is the primary source of income to travel agents, who consistently contribute over 60-75 per cent of the overall business to the airlines. The commissions have dropped from 9 -7, then 7- 5, later 5- 3, and finally NIL (Zero) Commission, it says.
While the travel agents have been fighting for the reinstatement of the commission for almost a decade, the current health crisis and its debilitating impact on the travel and tourism industry has necessitated a national campaign, IAAI says.
The impacts of the pandemic and economic fallout severely hit the travel agents. Past eleven years, the air travel sector has been outstretched with zero (nil) commission, and lately with the pandemic, as an unorganised sector, most travel agents and tour operators are out of the MSME ambit, neither benefited from banks nor got any bailouts from the government.
The Industry lost sustainability, and many have vacated offices, are jobless, find it hard to pay EMI on home or bank loans, have no savings for livelihood, no means to support families, and gradually become an endangered business profession, the Association says.
On the commission issue, the Association also highlights the contradiction between passenger agents and cargo agents. The Airline revenue is generated from passenger and cargo sales. While no commission to the ticketing agents, the Airlines are paying a 5 per cent commission to accredited cargo agents.Upholding the Aircraft Rules 1937 and the regulatory orders from DGCA of March 05, 2010, based on the Kerala High Court directives, and MoCA order of September 16, 2013, the Association says that Agents’ commission is the only legal remuneration to travel agents, and any other fee like transaction fee, service fee, PLB, etc. as illegal. However, taking advantage of the disunity in the agents’ community, the airlines continue to dishonor these regulatory orders, IAAI says.
“In the pretext of Corona and the new variant Omicron, airfares within and from India remain inflated and exorbitant, much higher than any seasonal fares we had ever earlier. Flight inventory is controlled by airlines and confined to specific favoured agents. Inaccessibility to flight inventory and customers’ unwillingness to part service fees are the factors that affect agents’ survival. A new tactic to funding and engineering consolidation and cartelisation or monopolisation. Airlines make more money with fewer fleet utilisation with less service and nil commission,” IAAI says in its statement to the agents’ community.
Reminding the agents’ community in the country about the looming threat from the privatisation of the aviation sector, IAAI says that the privatisation will lead to consolidations and cartelisation, and the Travel Agents community will slowly be eliminated or wiped out from this industry.
“Before the absolute privatisation of our sector happens, let us together fight to re-establish our legitimate rights for commission. The need of the hour is for the travel, tourism, and hospitality sector to strategically take steps for survival, build capacities and services for revival, and thrive. To rebuild the travel sector, travel agents have to swim upstream early on—and that requires a lot of hard work,” IAAI says.