The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has washed its hands of the ongoing standoff between airlines and travel agents over ticket commission.
Last month, the aviation regulator had scrapped travel agents’ plan to charge a ‘transaction fee’ from air passengers for booking tickets and instead asked airlines to pay commission to travel agents.
Travel agents had written to 16 foreign carriers such as British Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Lufthansa Airlines to discuss the quantum of commission but none have responded.
Meanwhile travel agents, who sell 85 per cent of air tickets in India, are charging a service fee, ranging from 3 per cent to 9 per cent of the ticket cost, from fliers. “If the agent does not get commission he has to charge something for survival,” said Rajji Rai, president of the Travel Agent Association of India.
“We will not intervene in the matter. Airlines and travel agents have to sort it amongst themselves,” said DGCA chief Nasim Zaidi.
The dispute over commission began in November 2008 when airlines passed a ‘zero commission’ policy and asked agents to get their remuneration from passengers in form of transaction fee. Subsequently a nationwide protest by agents forced domestic carriers such as Jet Airways, Air India and Kingfisher Airlines to settle for a 3 per cent commission from their demand of 5 per cent.
But international airlines did not budge following which travel agents moved the Kerala court.
The DGCA order last month came after the court directed it to decide the issue. Industry sources said two foreign carriers have stopped releasing tickets to travel agents since the DGCA order.
“We will send a reminder to foreign airlines next week. If they ignore it we will have to take the matter to the DGCA again,” said Ajay Prakash, general secretary, Travel Agents Federation of India.
The issue of amount of commission was raised in parliament on Thursday. Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said that the DGCA would not intervene in the matter.