A statement from Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) at Thursday night alleged that Air India continues to play “monopoly” at a time when economies are trying to revive and get back on their feet.
As per the TAAI, Air India allows travel agents to sell seats only on select flights under the Vande Bharat Mission and “other inventory has been blocked.”
“After our repeated request to you, agents were allowed to book through the GDS (Global Distribution System), but now stocks have been blocked and selected sectors are only allowed. This is completely unfair and biased,” he added.
The TAAI has over 2,500 travel agency companies as members.
“We urge you again (Ministry of Civil Aviation and Air India) to ensure that accredited travel agents are given due respect by members and that they are allowed to advertise and sell airline seats … in all sectors that Air India subordinates the Vande Bharat mission, “it said.
The TAAI has written two letters on the subject – one on July 30th and one on August 6th – to the Department of Civil Aviation and Air India. When asked, Air India told PTI that it was operating the Vande Bharat Mission flights under government orders to evacuate Indian citizens stranded overseas due to the shutdown of scheduled flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This initiative also serves Indians working / studying abroad to travel from India and return to their companies / institutions,” the national carrier said in a statement. She added that despite rising costs due to multiple restrictions in India and abroad, tariffs have been kept at very reasonable levels during the pandemic.
“After opening the sale of flights to travel agents, Air India received several complaints from passengers about overloading by travel agents or their subagents, especially in high demand sectors. To solve this problem, Air India has distributed complete information on country specific criteria and documents required for travel in order not to justify the exorbitant service fees.
“As a result, Air India has been forced to restrict access to agents for distribution of high-demand sectors to keep passengers interested in these troubled times,” it said.
On July 29, Air India announced on Twitter that passengers who book tickets through travel agents on international flights as part of the Vande Bharat Mission are not allowed to pay more than the tariffs stated on the airline’s website.
It had added, “Passengers faced with an agent overload problem can kindly write to us at [email protected]”
Planned international passenger flights have been suspended in the country since March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Since May 6, Air India has been operating special international flights as part of the Vande Bharat Mission to help people stranded abroad to reach their destinations. Private airlines have also operated a certain number of flights under the initiative.