Airfare set to take off

Mar 12, 2013, 04:14 IST | Sukirt D Gumaste

The city's fliers may now have to pay an additional charge if they book their air tickets through travel agents, as the Pune Travel Agent Association (PTAA) will introduce a commission structure on tickets booked through them, which will be applicable from next week onwards.

Earlier, airlines used to pay a commission to the agents by charging a transaction fee from passengers. But, in January, to provide some relief to the passengers, the Supreme Court had ordered airlines to stop collecting ‘transaction fees’ from passengers.

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Traveller used to pay a transaction fee ranging from Rs 50 to Rs 2,000 to the airline if travel agents made the booking. The airline would then compensate the travel agents. At times, the travel agents would also charge a higher transaction fee if they provided additional services — cancellation, rescheduling — to the passenger. But, after the apex court’s order, ticket-booking agents have been facing huge losses since three months.

In order to recoup losses, the PTAA has decided to impose a fixed service charge or commission. Nilesh Bhansali, director of PTAA, said, “We have been providing service to travellers by utilising our time. In one phone call, we conduct all the procedures of ticket booking. Fliers who book tickets directly from the airlines face many problems in case of urgent cancellation.

So, they prefer to book through an agent. 20 years ago the percent of commission provided by airlines was 10 per cent, which was reduced to 2 per cent last year. Then the court’s order came, and our source of income stopped.”

PTAA will prepare a standard commission structure, which will be charged after customers book their air tickets through them. The commission structure will be limited to the city’s agents in the initial stage. “We are approaching other agent associations also to implement this structure. Many agents also charge exorbitant rates so structure can work as a guideline for them also. The charges will be nominal, which will be disclosed next week,” Bhansali added.

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