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Travel Agents give preference to National carriers over foreign airlines

New Delhi, July 10, 2009: In a major decision, undertaken by the two of the premier travel agent bodies TAAI and TAFI today announced that all agents will now sell “away” from the international airlines and promote the Indian carriers. This decision comes in the wake of offering support to the crisis hit Indian carrier – Air India as well as to intensify the battle against the "zero commission" regime.

Travel agents will promote the Indian carriers with customers who wish to fly abroad. Agents will continue their stir against Singapore Airlines (SIA) and not sell SIA tickets. While tickets of other international airlines will be available for sale with the travel agents, they would however promote offers from Indian carriers only.

While Indian carriers would benefit with the support of these associations, this would have a major indirect impact on the ticket sales of International airlines, who are already reeling under the impact of the global meltdown. The impact of the direct withdrawal of support (ban on ticket sales) on SIA had far reaching effect on the airline – coupled with the impact of the global meltdown SIA has registered a 72.5 % fall in its ticket sales in 2009, compared to the first two quarters of 2008.

Thai Airlines has fortuitously benefited from the situation and they are now the leading carriers from India for flights bound to South East Asia and Australia. Also, Cathay Airlines now lead in ticket sales to the US especially sectors to SFO and LA as Singapore Airlines sees its revenues on this route whittling down to a measly 2 per cent vis-à-vis 2008.

"It is downright unacceptable that some foreign carriers have gone to Zero commission with an intention to cut their vital arm of distribution and not to remunerate agents their rightful commissions and have entered our country with the sole purpose of generating maximum profits, which they repatriate back to their own countries. We are not willing to tolerate this unjust approach, we prefer instead to do business with Indian carriers now and support them in their crunch time at this critical juncture. I am requesting each member of TAAI and other associations to promote our National Carriers and extend maximum support to them for their revival, as during zero crises these very carriers stood by us for our survival" says Rajji Rai, President, Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI).

In a reciprocal gesture, the travel agents have been rooting for a bailout package for airlines, particularly Air India, hit by the global economic downturn.

"It is also our duty to extend all support and give maximum possible assistance to AIR INDIA in order to improve their profits and bottom-line" added Mr. Rai. In a reciprocal gesture, the travel agents have supported the request for a bailout package for airlines, particularly Air India, hit by the global economic downturn.

"Discussions are on with senior officials of the national carriers and the CMD of Air India has been most pro-active in his approach and has expressed his willingness to consider any constructive proposal from the Travel agents which would help Air India," informs Pradip Lulla, President, Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI).

Both Associations have also taken the matter up with the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which in turn has issued an ultimatum to SIA and other airlines which have abolished commission to explain the rationale behind their actions.

"It is heartening to note that the DGCA has taken cognizance of the matter and has directed the foreign airlines to adhere to the law of the land. We are not asking for a bailout, merely a protection of our basic right to livelihood," states Ajay Prakash, National General Secretary of TAFI.

About Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI):

The Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) was formed towards the end of the year 1951 by a group of twelve leading Travel agents, who felt the need to create an association to regulate the Travel industry in India. The primary purpose was to protect the interests of those engaged in the industry, to promote its orderly growth and development and to safeguard the rights of the traveling public. TAAI represents all that is professional, ethical and dynamic in our nation's Travel related activity and has been recognized as the voice of the Travel and Tourism industry in India. For further details, please contact: Mr. Vijay Mohanraj, Chairman AP chapter – TAAI @ 09848030429
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