Mumbai: Travel agents have once again moved court against 16 foreign airlines that are not paying them commissions due on ticket sales, and have asked India’s civil aviation regulator to intervene on their behalf.
The Iata Agents Association of India, or IAAI, a lobby group of 600 travel agents from across the country, recently filed a contempt case in the Kerala high court against the 16 carriers for failing to pay them a 5% commission, as ordered by the court in July 2009.
Commission row: The downed shutters of a travel agency in Delhi during the 2008 strike to protest the implementation of zero commissions.Madhu Kapparath/Mint
The court had then asked the ministry of civil aviation and regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to ensure that the payment was made.
Following the order, DGCA directed the airlines in March to pay the commission, saying it was rightful remuneration. But the airlines are yet to comply, said IAAI.
“In stark defiance, the 16 airlines have not cared to follow the (DGCA) directive,” IAAI president Biji Eapen wrote in a letter dated 13 May to S.N.A. Zaidi, the director-general of civil aviation. Mint has reviewed this letter.
The association now wants DGCA to apprise the court about the situation.
“The high court will reopen next week after the annual vacation and it is expected that the contempt of court case will be disposed (of) as soon as the DGCA compliance report is submitted,” Eapen said.
Mint could not contact DGCA.
“We are still reviewing the order. We have not taken any decisions yet,” said a spokesperson of Singapore Airlines, the first carrier to stop paying 5% commission to agents in late 2008, as part of a global move by airlines to cut costs. They suggested that travel agents charge passengers directly.
In India, Singapore Airlines was joined by Air Canada, Air France, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines, Finnair, Japan Airlines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Lufthansa German Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Qatar Airways, Silk Air, Swiss International Airlines Ltd and United Airlines.
In retaliation, at least half a dozen associations of travel agents boycotted the carriers.
Indian carriers such as Air India, run by the National Aviation Co. of India Ltd, and Jet Airways (India) Ltd also joined the “zero commission” regime initially, but restored the payments after the boycott.
About 85% of airline bookings in India are done through travel agents, including online agencies.
Eapen said travel agents are seeking 5% commission with retrospective effect from 5 March 2010.
He also said airlines such as Emirates Airline, Royal Jordanian Airlines, SriLankan Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airlines have been paying the commission all along.