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Sun 10 Aug 2008 04:00 AM

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Agents resigned to Emirates’ 0% move

The UAE's travel agency community has resigned itself to adapting to Emirates Airline's move to 0% commission.

The UAE's travel agency community has resigned itself to adapting to Emirates Airline's move to 0% commission.

Some are more upbeat than others, but all agree that the move was inevitable and that every other airline will follow suit, sooner rather than later.

"It is unfortunate but inevitable. With airlines in other parts of the world not having paid travel agents commission for some time now, it was really only a matter of time before carriers in this part of the world adopted the same policy," said Sharaf Travel general manager John Kerr.

Orient Travel CEO Asim Arshad said he did not view Emirates' move as bad or good, "just something to be dealt with".

"We can handle the change; we have a model in place and we are prepared," he said.

However, Al Rostamani Travel general manager Heinz Gabel said although Emriates' decision might "turn out to be a positive change for the industry" in the long term, he did not believe his company was in a position to charge a 7% service charge on Emirates tickets as the airline had suggested: "The majority of our customers are corporates and the price increase on the fare will be too much," he said.

"We have to increase our focus on training our staff. It has always been important but now it will be even more so, and we must make sure we communicate the changes to our clients so they understand what is happening."

Dubai Travel and Tour Agents Group (DTTAG) manager Leo Fewtrell said it was time for agents to take their heads out of the sand and be prepared for Emirates to go to 1% on October 1.

"This is an opportunity for travel agencies to work harder and work smarter," he added.

Abu Dhabi travel agents were less upbeat with Clive Alvares, business travel manager at Abdul Jalil Travel Agency raising concerns over "cut-throat competition".

"In Abu Dhabi there are roughly 350 travel agencies. If we introduce seven percent service charges and other agencies try to undercut this price it is going to have a negative effect on everyone," he stressed.

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