Mumbai: Lobby groups of India’s travel agents cracked the whip on errant members selling tickets of Singapore Airlines Ltd, threatening suspension and blacklisting.
The agents associations have been protesting the carrier’s decision to not pay them commission. It has asked the agents to instead charge a fee from customers.
“Agents that are issuing tickets for Singapore Airlines will not be admitted to any associations hereafter and a resolution has been taken in this regard already,” said Ajay Prakash, national general secretary of Travel Agents’ Federation of India (Tafi).
Fee matters: Singapore Airlines is among the 16 carriers that have stopped paying commission to India’s travel agents. Munshi Ahmed / Bloomberg
The Travel Agents’ Association of India and Tafi in a joint press conference on Wednesday said they would intensify their stir against Singapore Airlines by seeking support from large travel houses and consolidators. Consolidators buy tickets in bulk and sell them to smaller agencies.
In the ongoing battle over commissions between the airline and travel agents, the associations have asked members to surrender ticketing rights to pre-empt the carrier’s threat to revoke them. At least 1,000 agents belonging to Tafi have done so. In a letter written to both associations, a group of travel agents had earlier suggested stopping sale of tickets for an indefinite period starting 5 April of those airlines that have decided not to pay a commission to them.
Currently, at least 16 international airlines have stopped paying the commission to India’s travel agents including United Airlines Inc., Continental Airlines Inc., Air France, Northwest Airlines Corp., Qatar Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Japan Airlines Corp., British Airways Plc., American Airlines Inc., Austrian Airlines and Swiss International Air Lines Ltd.
Mint had reviewed this letter dated 27 March, which was jointly signed by seven travel consolidators.
The associations, however, ruled out the possibility. “Indefinite strike is not the option. However, we are intensifying our boycott against Singapore Airlines,” Prakash said.
Tafi president Rajinder Rai said he had not seen the letter. “If these big travel houses and consolidators are ready to give up their authority to issue (tickets of) Singapore Airlines, then we will think about it,” he said.
“Right from the beginning, IAAI (Iata Agents Association of India) has been advocating that closing all our offices indefinitely would force the airlines to reinstate commission. Agents in Pakistan and Hong Kong closed office for only three days and got back their full commission,” said IAAI president Biji Eapen.
Iata is short for International Air Transport Association, an international industry trade group of airlines headquartered in Montreal, Canada.
In response to a faction of Taai and Tafi that has questioned the rationale behind singling out Singapore Airlines, Prakash said: “We cannot afford to ban all airlines. Therefore, we are picking our fights. The idea is to win, not to be fair.”
A Singapore Airlines executive said his firm’s stance against the travel agents is unchanged but it is open to discussions. He requested anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to the media.