Travel agents keep shutter down over air fare issue



Mumbai: Over 3,000 travel agents across the country kept their businesses shut today protesting alleged opaque airfare practices by airlines, and also demanded restoration of agency commission, travel agents body TAAI claimed.

"The bandh was a big success as some 3,500 travel agents from across the country, including Mumbai and Delhi voluntarily did not work today in support of our demands," Travel Agents Association of India President Iqbal Mulla said here.

Mulla said that along with 3,000 TAAI members, some of the outbound tour operators also kept their shutters down to show solidarity with the industry, which is facing is rough weather due to the economic conditions.

Stating that the travel agents fight for "rightful commission" and bringing transparency in the fares will continue, Mulla said, "Now we have to prepare our next phase of action plan."

He, however, did not specify as to what would be the next step.

Alleging that air fare practices of airlines are opaque, the TAAI demanded that the airlines should bring transparency in airfares and also wanted the government to regulate airline fares in the interest of the consumers.

Besides, the association has also demanded restoration of agency commission, which is currently paid only to Air India and Jet Airways along with a few overseas carrier.

The travel agents' body has also also opposed the government's move to unbundle air services and allowing airlines to charges for different services such as preferential seating, meals, snacks, drinks (except drinking water) and baggage.

All these services should be included in the ticket price, TAAI argues.

The Civil Aviation Ministry had, in 2011, barred airlines from charging extras for preferential seating, prompting low-fare carrier IndiGo and others to include this in a "special services" category.

PTI