Greece’s travel trade associations got together last month ans called emergency general assembly of all travel associations to consider stop selling domestic airline tickets after local carriers cut agency commission down to 6.94% from 9%.
And while most delegates didn’t disagree with the idea, they suggested association leaders hold another meeting with airlines and if nothing positive was forthcoming, then they would refuse to continue selling domestic tickets.
The president of the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourism Agents, Yiannis Evangelou, later told GTP that the meeting was held with the airlines but up until press time there has been no reply.
In the meantime, agents have been sending in ticket sale remittances less the 9% commission and not the 6.94%. “So far, we have not deviated from our position,” said Mr. Evangelou, “but each and every agent must stick with us in a strong united front.”
Representatives from Greece’s three airlines, Olympic, Aegean/Cronus and Axon, explained to delegates that each had lost tremendous amounts of money even before the September 11 attack -mostly due to high fuel costs- and that costs had to be cut drastically in order to survive.
Speakers, however, said that airlines took prearranged coordinated actions, which is against the idea of free competition. Neither did they cooperate with their commercial partners (travel agents) who distribute their products.
In the end, travel professionals demanded that no change be made in commissions and that on top of present commission, agents should get a percentage of the tax and insurance funds charged and collected for third parties on each ticket sold.
And if no positive answer is received from Greek airlines, the agents will refuse to book seats or issue domestic tickets and will take the matter up with Greek and European organizations with the claim that such a practice is against the right to free competition.
One speaker took it a step further and said that if the problem is not solved agents should take the airlines to court and to the anti-competition committee.
He said this was viable because the prearranged commission cuts are blatant violation of current legislation regarding open competition.
Other speakers stressed that any reduction of travel agency fees on the total amount of airline ticket sales is a particularly strong financial blow for the already problematic finance of tourism enterprises due to the ongoing crisis. And this threatens their survival.
Travel and tourism organizations represented at the emergency session included the Panhellenic Federation of Tourism Enterprises, the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourism Agents, the Panhellenic Association of Air Transport Agencies, the Macedonian-Thrace Association of Travel Agents, and the Hellenic Association of Professional Congress Organizers.