KOCHI: In what could be another jolt for cash-strapped Keralites, travel agents accredited to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have warned that the annual accreditation fees to be imposed on them by the IATA would be passed on to customers.
Earlier, the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation had announced its decision to impose a levy on flight services to fund its ‘regional connectivity scheme,’ which will also be passed on to customers ultimately.
According to the IATA Agents Association of India (IAAI), travel agents will have to pay Rs. 48,139 annually to the IATA for using the 2-tier BSP Link Access to be implemented on January 1, 2017, for ticket booking.
“Consequently, the agents will be compelled to collect ‘transaction fee’ from customers, in violation of the law. The Kerala unit of the IAAI will be holding an annual general body meeting in Kochi on Sunday to chalk out protest programmes against the government’s decision,” said office- bearers of the IAAI.
“IATA-accredited travel agents are not slaves or bonded servants of the airlines. We will not allow any agency to dictate terms. We cannot accept such an injustice. We will not be able to generate so much revenue from the services we provide to the ‘zero commission’ foreign airlines and the domestic carriers, most of which pay a mere ‘baksheesh’ (commission) of 1 per cent. The IATA has been providing us the BSP link facilities since 2011, as per the BSP Regulatory Manuel. Making changes to such fundamental rights of the agents is illegal, biased, unilateral and arbitrary,” they said.
It was on Friday that the Central Government announced a levy of up to Rs. 8,500 per flight to fund its regional air connectivity scheme ‘Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN).
The fees, which is expected to be introduced in January, will be fixed depending on the travel distance of each flight.
Speaking to ‘Express’, IATA Agents Association of India national president Biji Eapen said the regulatory bodies were least bothered about the air passengers in the country, and were only concerned about the airline companies.
“The money collected from passengers in the country will directly go to foreign bank ‘Deutsche,’ and then to the respective airlines. Why the government, which has declared a war against black money, is hesitant to entrust the task with the country’s national bank?” Biji asked.