Discounted KLM tickets spark dispute
16 January 2004
AMSTERDAM — The association of Flemish travel agencies (VVR) has urged 600 affiliated companies to boycott Dutch airline KLM in the next few days in a dispute over discounted ticket prices.
The VVR was angered after the Dutch flag carrier started offering cheaper tickets from its own website this week, heavily undercutting the prices offered by travel bureaus, which therefore stand to lose sales.
“The action is an attack on travel bureaus here,” the VVR chairman Luc Demuynck said. And using a flight to the Turkish city of Istanbul as an example, he said: “We must charge EUR 304, but KLM is selling the same flight for EUR 197. A price difference of about EUR 100!”.
Demuynck admitted that other airlines also stage special internet actions, but without such a large price difference. The Flemish travel agencies have refused to negotiate with KLM to resolve the dispute.
KLM — which will soon tie up its merger with Air France to create Europe’s largest airline — has about an 8 to 12 percent market share in Belgium, Dutch daily newspaper De Volkskrant reported on Friday.
But the Dutch airline is not concerned about the boycott. “Passengers have said they are happy with our internet action,” a KLM spokesman in Brussels said.
And the secretary of Dutch travel agency association ANVR, Walter Schut, said agreements have been made in the Netherlands with KLM to limit similar internet actions. The agreement states that the airline may only offer discounts on its website for three days, four times per year.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news