THE TRAVEL Industry Council (TIC) of Hong Kong has issued a notice to its 1,500 members, urging them to stop providing ticketing and enquiry services for Lufthansa and SWISS until further notice in retaliation against the carriers’ implementation of a zero commission policy.
The two airlines had ceased paying commission to travel consultants since June 1.
TIC’s move came after a failed attempt to seek the airlines’ reconsideration through a meeting on April 13 and a subsequent letter. However, the call was met with mixed reactions from the trade, with several travel consultants saying that they “would not do business for nothing”.
Tommy Tam, managing director of Arrow Travel, said: “The carriers only informed us three months before and it was all very rushed. Air France/KLM (which had adopted the zero commission practice in April 2010) gave us a one-year notice. ”
This retaliation is a stark contrast to the street demonstration that Hong Kong’s travel trade had led against Air France/KLM in 2010. Tam explained that there was a lack of cooperation between travel consultants to evoke a change in the airlines’ decision this time around.
He said: “Moreover, the (demonstration) didn’t change the outcome and zero commission was implemented in the end. Travel consultants have no choice but to accept.”
Tam intends to promote other airlines that offer commission and impose additional charges on customers who request for Lufthansa and SWISS flights.
Jacky Chan, assistant general manager of FIT specialist Eastrip Travel, said: “We don’t want to turn away business. I will book the ticket for my client if he agrees to bear the HK$300 (US$39) handling charge. To stay competitive we will diversify our products and services, such as offering shorthaul FIT packages to China for one or two days.”