Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) has voiced its dejection on Air India’s social media post as well as communications to travellers to book on their website and verify airfares with the airlines before booking with the agents. An official press release was issued that raises several concerns. It is as follows:
The airline has also stated that agents block the inventory on the GDS. Writing to Minister of Civil Aviation, Mr Hardeep Singh Puri and CMD of Air India, Mr Rajiv Bansal, TAAI informed the National Carrier to withdraw the same.
Excerpts from the communication dated 30th July produced below: “We refer to the circular issued by Air India to travel agents as well as to media, including posts on social media, informing travellers to not pay more than the fare mentioned on the website of Air India, if booked through the travel agents. We strongly condemn this and request you to withdraw the same. It shall be appreciated that travel agents members guide and update the passengers on all formalities, assist in documentation, filing complicated declarations, assist in updating on registration on AI website and also provide allied services to travellers, update of the validity of visas and visa categories permitted etc. Sirs, our member agents provide services to the traveller/customers, who feels secure by dealing with us.”
Refunds have been pending for four months
“During these pandemic and testing times, our trade is the most impacted, with all airlines, including Air India not refunding the amounts of tickets for services not rendered. For over 4 months the refunds are pending and the travellers are chasing our member agents to refund their monies. After our multiple requests to your good selves, the same has begun but still, the process is terribly slow. We have never blamed or criticised the airline or their practices. We also understand that the airline too is facing a cash crunch but with no clarity from the Government and the National Flagbearer, this had become out of control.”
“We have been in constant touch with MoCA/Air India Management on a regular basis and such communications are demeaning to our member agents in the trade who you call “Travel Partners”. We demand and appeal a clarity be issued instantly in this regard, which should inform of malpractices and manipulations, but should ensure that the agent and customer have direct relationship in their conditions of additional services and charges being levied thereon for providing the same.”
“This situation and crisis are well known to all and we need not elaborate more. All we would once again urge you is to ensure a fair playing field to member travel agents, who run establishments-thereby supporting employment, promote your airline – enabling your sales, place financial securities with IATA to obtain ticketing authorities with your airline – protection against default, pay taxes on their earnings-supporting the economy and trade of the country.”
“We once again request you to ensure that accredited member travel agents are giving the due respect and permitted to promote and sell airline seats using the GDS on all sectors that are being operated by Air India, under the Vande Bharat Mission, to and from India.”