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Travel agents observe bandh against cut in commission

By Our Special Correspondent

CHENNAI, APRIL 8. Members owing allegiance to the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), Southern Region, today joined the nation-wide bandh to protest against the reduction of commission from 7 to 5 per cent.

"It has been a total success as out of the 170 travel agents in Chennai, only 6 kept their establishments open. Reports of closure of offices have also poured in from Tiruchi, Coimbatore and Pondicherry," TAAI and Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) claimed.

An agent having office in Spencer's Plaza here said the reduction of commission would result not only in total closure of their business, but also render four lakh employees jobless.

"We will wait for the reaction from Air India (AI) and other foreign carriers about the commission and then chalk out future course of action," a member of the committee set up to monitor the bandh said.

Geared to meet demand

Enquiries with Air India revealed that it was "fully geared to deal with any increase in demand for issuance of tickets".

A press statement said its ticketing offices issued tickets at competitive market fare levels to ensure that the passengers were not put to inconvenience.

An AI spokesperson said the representatives of TAAI and TAFI who met the Chairman and Managing Director of AI on April 2 were told about the spiralling fuel prices and the need for the airlines and the travel trade to share the burden.

The commission was eventually paid by the customer and no part of it was retained by the airlines.

It was also pointed out during the meeting that most agents parted with a large portion of the commission to the passengers and in no way it affected the agent's bottom line.

Global phenomenon

The AI chief said it was not only their carrier that had implemented the reduction of commission but also most of the international carriers.

The reduction was a global phenomenon and in the U.K., the U.S., France, Germany and Singapore, the commission level had already been brought down to zero, the statement said.

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