The Travel Agents Association of India leadership met the Air India senior officials on March 18, 2020 to discuss the issues faced by the member agents. The association has written a letter to the National Carrier addressing the challenges in-detail, with the major challenges being booking of Vande Bharat Flights only via Air India website, Refunds on GDS, and demand for 5 per cent agent commission from Air India on the total airfare.
Addressing issue about the commission, the letter sent by TAAI to Air India stated, “Since last year Air India had withdrawn the commission @1.5% and is only giving the same as an incentive on monthly basis. There has to be a fixed formula to this and we reteriate our demand for a minimum of five per cent as commission on the total airfare. This shall ensure that members who have provided financial security through IATA at a cost plus their cost of sales and employment, so as to earn a living is justified, especially by the National Carrier.”
The statement further said, “We are hopeful that under your leadership, Air India being the National Carrier of India, gives due respect, opportunity to accredited agents and ensures rightful ease of doing business, especially during these challenging times.”
Also, another major issue which the association has noted is booking of special flights only through the airline’s website. The association has requested that Air India should permit accredited agents to book Vande Bharat Mission flights seat on the GDS.
The statement further stated, “We had discussed various times in the past few months, that it was inappropriate to sell the tickets on these special flights only on the airlines website. Being IATA accredited agents and Air India being an IATA BSP concurrent airlines as well as the national carrier it must ensure that the trade, agents are protected and assisted. A special circular with conditions for making bookings on these VBM flights must be issued so as to assist the agents. It should also be noted that the genuine travellers miss out on the opportunities to book their seats. Many do not have access to the website and are not in a position to make online reservations.”
Also, the association has requested the airline to process refunds on GDS.
The letter further mentions, “Air India is the one of the airlines which is not permitting refunds on the GDS. Only once a month we receive circulars to refund the tickets on the GDS / RA(IATA) and under negative billing the same will not be processed. This is unfair. Member agents have always ensured timely payments to the airline/IATA as per the PSA Agreement / BSP Resolutions. You are required to open up the access to process refunds for previous refunds which were to be processed during the lockdown as well as for flights which have been cancelled or bookings cancelled on passenger action for immediate refund process in the billing cycle as prescribed by IATA without setting any further conditions and promptly refund the amounts as per the resolutions thereto. It is unfortunate that Air India is not supporting its accredited members who have supported the National Carrier over the decades. We shall appreciate if the GDS refund process without negative billing credits is opened up immediately for member agents. Further, we expect Air India to permit booking of all flights across all GDS systems. This shall empower more sales and bookings, effecting higher load factor and profits for the airlines.”