Vol. 4 Num 213 Wed. December 31, 2003  
Letters to Editor

Strike by travel agents

I consider the strike called by the Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh (ATAB) from January 1, to protest reduction of agency commissions by airlines an irresponsible move. At present, travel agents get nine per cent commission from airlines. I believe airlines have decided to pay only seven per cent to agents with effect from January 1.

It is well known that travel agents share their commissions with travellers and sell tickets keeping only two per cent for themselves. Many agents keep only one per cent to undercut his fellow agent. Some agents even go out to share with travellers the incentives given to agents by airlines during lean periods. Travel agents' undercutting each other has been going on for many years now and the ATAB has failed to stop this dirty game. Whatever may be the reduction of commissions by airlines, I am quite certain that travel agents in Bangladesh will continue to do business keeping only a fraction of the benefit for themselves. In reality the passengers would be paying more if airlines reduce the commission given to travel agents.

Travel agents in Bangladesh are probably not aware that airlines are now selling tickets directly to passengers through internet known as e-travel. In all developed countries due to sale and purchase of air tickets through internet air ticketing business is gradually shifting away from travel agents. This shift in business may have prompted the airlines to reduce agent's commission and go for cost cutting. In Dhaka, many expatriates are also buying tickets through internet. In the coming years, travel agents will be left with only organising package tours. Under these circumstances, I doubt if the ATAB will be able to coerce airlines to pay more commission.