British Airways last month delivered a two-punch strike to the British travel agent community. Not only does the airline plan to cease paying agent commissions, it also will block IATA agents doing less than £50,000 of business over a 12-month period, a move that will affect an estimated 377 agents by the end of January.
The airline defended full-throated protests, arguing that it needed to limit its exposure after realizing thousands of pounds in agency failures. The non-ticketing agents will no longer be able to see BA fares on the GDS. Agents have an 18 February deadline to accept or reject the commission cut, which goes into effect in May.
The move was quickly followed by Virgin Express, which will apply a ‘zero commission’ distribution policy effective 1 April 2005.
All bookings made before that date (regardless the actual travel date) will still be eligible for 9% commission.