Expatica news

End of agent fees ‘won’t cut plane fares’

20 December 2004

BRUSSELS  – Airline tickets are unlikely to become cheaper even after the disappearance of the automatic commission paid by carriers to travel agents, it was reported Monday.

Currently, airlines pay about a 7 percent commission to travel agents that sell their tickets, in part to remunerate them for their services and for their loyalty.

In the new year this system will become a thing of the past, meaning that passengers who book their trips through travel agents will have to pay the agents directly, Le Soir newspaper reported.

However, prices at many airlines may stay the same as carriers in turn invoice passengers for booking charges.

“We had a system that was simple and efficient that functioned relatively well,” Jean-Philippe Cuvelier, president of the professional travel agents’ unions.

He argued that the new system would allow carriers a subtle means of raising their fares.

Many of the larger carriers such as Lufthansa, Air France, KLM, British Airways and SN Brussels airlines are all planning to remove the commission in the new year, though not all have officially announced their plans yet.

Cuvelier also noted that the current system works to passengers’ favour because the agents are not beholden to any particular carrier since the commission is always the same.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news