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Indian travel agents threaten strike over ticket commission

8 Apr 2009

Travel agents across India have threatened to go on a hunger strike from next week in a last-ditch attempt to get airlines to withdraw their zero commission policy.

Members of six Indian travel associations will go on strike if a second meeting with Singapore Airlines officials in Mumbai fails to reach a settlement.

National general secretary of the Travel Agents’ Federation of India, Ajay Prakash, said: “If the second round of meetings on Wednesday evening with Singapore Airlines fails to take off, then we will go for a hunger strike.”

The strike is likely to affect air ticket bookings as travel agents account for more than 85 percent of ticket sales in India, with the remaining tickets sold directly by the airlines themselves.

This disagreement started in mid-2008 when both local and foreign international airlines decided to implement zero commission policies for agents selling their airline tickets.

Travel agents refused the move, saying that no ticket commissions will put them out of business.

The six Indian travel associations have boycotted Singapore Airlines since December 2008, and Singapore has not been promoted as a travel destination since the end of January this year in a bid to get the commissions reinstated. This, Indian travel agent associations claim, is resulting in a loss of US$1 million per day for Singapore Airlines, despite the fact that some agencies are still selling SIA tickets.

SIA has said that it would continue talks with agents, stating that it is committed to achieving a mutually beneficial solution to the issue. Previous meetings between the two parties have seen SIA offering one percent commission for Indian agents with a time frame of six months before the zero commission policy is reinstated.

Joshua Tan

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