Staff Reporter

Move to scrap commission

Commission to be scrapped from November 1

Agents to hold protest on

August 26

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Travel agents in the State are up in arms against the decision to abolish the commission given by the airline companies to approved travel agents for ticket sales with effect from November 1.

The Travel-Tourism Co-ordination Forum, an umbrella organisation of travel, tourism and recruiting agents in the southern districts of the state, has been formed with IATA Kerala Chapter E. M. Najeeb as the Chairman to fight against the move.

The forum has decided to close down all the travel agencies in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Pathanamthitta districts on August 26 and to hold a dharna in front of the Air India office near Vellayambalam junction in the capital.

The decision to scrap the commission to the travel agents is being done at the instance of the national carrier Air India, alleged the general convenor of the forum K. V. Muralidharan and other members at a press conference here on Friday.

The forum has also decided to boycott Air India and to strengthen the agitation if the commission to the travel agents is withdrawn by the national carrier and other airline companies.

The scrapping of the commission to travel agents will severely affect the state which has three international airports and lakhs of trained personnel working in travel, tourism and recruitment area.

As many as three lakh people are working in around 40,000 big and small travel agencies in the state.

The forum has pointed out that 95 per cent of the travel agencies in the state will have to be closed down if the decision to scrap the commission is implemented.

In the country, 4,700 approved IATA accredited agents and an equal number of approved tour operators and recruiting agencies are working.

The revenue to the Union government, which gets around Rs. 1,000 crores as various taxes, will also be badly affected.

The forum has alleged that the decision is part of the conspiracy to increase the airfare, especially to the Gulf sector. A ticket from Thiruvananthapuram to Dubai is available in the range of Rs. 7,500 to Rs. 9,000 due to the intense competition between travel agents and the airlines. The IATA rate in the sector was Rs. 15,000 in 1991-95.

Mr. Muralidharan said that by abolishing the commission they aim to avoid the discount provided by airlines to the passengers on tickets and to steeply increase the fare.

The fare to Dubai will go up by 50 to 100 per cent once the strategy works out.

Moves are also on to hike the IATA one way fare to Dubai to Rs. 26,000 plus taxes.

The forum alleged that the move is also aimed at weakening the travel agencies and their associations that are in the forefront against the frequent hike in airfare. Avoiding the competition between travel agents and airlines will affect Non-resident Keralites working in the Gulf countries and also upset the functioning of the three airports.

The forum has sought the intervention of the government and all political parties to put pressure on the Civil Aviation Ministry to withdraw the decision to scrap commission to the travel agents.