Say their survival in industry is at risk as commission brought down from 9% to nil

Nearly 3,500 travel agents in the State, who are members of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), went on a strike on Tuesday demanding commissions from airlines for booking tickets.

The agents said, the commission amount, which was about 9 per cent of the ticket fare in 2006, was slowly reduced to zero, and has severely affected their business.

S. Baskar, who runs a city-based agency, Champion Travel and Tour, said, “We have been struggling for years now. Recently, we were barred from levying transaction fees as well. If this continues, we will soon hold a hunger strike. At present we survive by providing various other services such as getting a passport, assisting with visas and arranging for hotel reservations and foreign currency.”

Nearly 80 per cent of air tickets are sold through travel agents, said Krishna Rao, managing director of R.K. World Tours and Travels. “We want a commission of 9 percent to survive in the industry. It is very difficult for us as we have to compete with the airlines themselves, as they charge nearly 20 percent less on business class and first class tickets and 10 percent less on economy class tickets that are booked directly on their websites,” he said.

Mr. Rao added that on an average, he booked around 15-20 tickets per day, and had probably incurred a loss of about Rs. 5-7 lakh on Tuesday owing to the voluntary shutdown.

D. Sudhakar Reddy of Air Passengers Association of India said the strike was bound to have affected several potential passengers. “Many people still book through agencies, and all of them would have been inconvenienced on Tuesday,” he said.

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