TRAVELLERS from Bahrain face higher air fares, with the introduction of a seven per cent service charge on ticket sales.
The five per cent travel agents’ commission has been scrapped and is being replaced by the service charge on all tickets issued by the airlines.
Agents party to the scheme have each paid a BD5,000 deposit, which they risk losing if they are caught discounting, said sources.
The decision to introduce a zero commission in the Bahrain market was taken earlier this year by the Board of Airlines Representatives (BAR), chaired by national carrier Gulf Air. All the airlines, except KLM and Emirates, have already agreed to this decision.
The Association of Bahrain Travel and Tours Agents (Abtta) welcomed the decision, saying it would benefit both the airlines and the travel agents. It said the seven per cent service charge was acceptable to the travel agents provided they hold on to it.
Abtta called a meeting of its members last week and asked them to give an undertaking that they would abide by the terms and would not part with their benefits. Sixty-four travel agents have already agreed to the terms and paid BD5,000 each as a deposit with Abtta, said a source. An auditing firm has been appointed to monitor the agents’ performance.
Though there are about 150 travel agents in Bahrain, only half of them are Abtta members. “In future, the Civil Aviation Affairs (CAA) will not renew the licence of the travel agents if they are not members of Abtta,” said the source. “If CAA fails to approve their licence, the Industry and Commerce Ministry will not renew their registration.”
KLM and Emirates said they would continue offering 5pc commission to travel agents. “We have decided to maintain the status quo,” said Emirates Bahrain area manager Mohammed bin Ghanam. “Our head office will review the situation after all the GCC countries introduce the zero commission. In our region, only Jordan and Kuwait have introduced the No Sales Commission policy. We shall await instructions from our head office before endorsing the Abtta directives.”
KLM Bahrain commercial manager Denzil D'Silva also said the current policy on commission would be maintained.
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