Pay more on ticket ‘refund’ and ‘reissue’

By Kaushalendra Singh — SALALAH: April 16 – Flyers who change their mind of travelling on a scheduled date and time as mentioned in their tickets, have to shell out more after a ‘new strategy’ adopted by the IATA agents in Oman. In all likelihood there would be hike in all category fares as a committee of the IATA agents has tried to tame a section of the sub agents who are selling air tickets at a “very thin margin causing tough competition in the sector and putting the IATA in a tight spot.”  As an outcome of series of meetings, the IATA agents have come out with a new ‘service structure’ to be levied on tickets ranging from RO 2 to RO 10 per ticket.

On all commissionable and non commissionable airlines there would be ticket issuing charge of RO 2 on Economy one way; RO 4 on Economy return, RO 5 on Premium one way and RO 10 on Premium return. This charge on Thai Airways is RO 10 on all categories. For domestic airlines in Oman, the charges range from RO 1, RO 2, RO 2 and RO 4 on Economy one way, Economy return, Premium one way and Premium return respectively. Earlier, the sub-agents were using their own discretion depending upon frequency of customers and choice of margin on this head.

Now it has become mandatory for all the IATA sub agents to abide by this ‘new strategy’ and deposit the amount to respective IATA agents. Similarly, the flyers have to pay extra RO 5 for refund and extra RO 2 to IATA agents for reissuance of tickets. This is apart from refund and reissue charges levied by different airlines. The ‘new structure’ became effective in Muscat a couple days back, while in Salalah from Sunday. Endorsing the IATA committee’s stand Zainuddin K, Business Development Manager of Travel Point in Salalah, said: “The whole exercise is aimed at making the IATA agents survive in the market, as due to unregulated behaviour of some sub-agents it is becoming difficult for us to manage business in current market scenario.” Sub-agents, however, have different point of view about the IATA stand.

They are treating the ‘new strategy’ something which is being imposed on them despite the fact that they are small fry in front of the IATA agents. “We are nothing in front of them. We depend on them to issue tickets. They get credit points and in turn get several privileges from the airlines. We survive on very little margin being offered by the airlines,” said a sub-agent on the condition of anonymity. He termed the extra charges on ‘refund’ and ‘reissue’ a cause of clash between travel agents and customers as the charges are bound to be more than the charges declared by the airlines. “If the IATA agents find any wrongdoing by a section of sub-agents, the burden should not be put on everyone.

We have retail customers, while they have corporate and segmented customers. We work like SMEs, they work like corporate. Hence our point of view should have been taken into consideration.” “Moreover, the sub-agents have been asked to deposit RO 3,000 by April 30 to register as sub-agents and the credit days have been reduced from 15 days to seven days. If the market scenario is bad for them, it is not good for us as well. We should be allowed to survive,” said a sub-agent. There are around 65 IATA agents and around 600 sub-agents in Oman. The IATA committee’s ‘new strategy’ is likely to have cascading effect on air fare and the travellers have to shell out more in all likelihood.