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Tue 2 Oct 2007 12:00 AM

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Airlines muse BA policy

European carriers are undecided as to whether they will follow British Airways' lead and introduce zero commission in Saudi Arabia.

European carriers are undecided as to whether they will follow British Airways' lead and introduce zero commission in Saudi Arabia.

At time of press, German, Austrian and Swiss flag carriers Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and SWISS respectively, said plans to adopt this policy were on the table, but no final decision had been reached.

"This is one of many topics on the agenda of the Board of Airline Representatives (BARSA) in Saudi Arabia," said Lufthansa's GM passenger sales UAE & director Gulf & Pakistan Peter Pollak. "Lufthansa and SWISS currently pay 7% commission to travel agents in KSA and there is no decision to change that."

But Pollak acknowledged that zero commission had become a trend in many international markets, including the GCC.

Austrian Airlines, which like BA is an offline carrier in Saudi Arabia, said it would wait to see what commission policy KSA's national carrier Saudi Arabian Airlines implemented before making a decision.

Saudia currently pays agents a healthy 10% commission in its home market.

"Also, I need to take up this matter with our other Star Alliance partners such as Lufthansa, SWISS and Singapore Airlines, so we can all move in one direction," said Austrian Airlines' regional manager for the Gulf region and Lebanon Karim El Sanadily.

Meanwhile, BA rival bmi, which is online and flies three times weekly from Riyadh and Jeddah to London Heathrow told ATN it would continue to remunerate the travel trade in KSA and other Middle East markets: "We don't always follow what the national carrier does - the trade are absolutely crucial to us and we want to work closely with them," said bmi group chief executive Nigel Turner, speaking as bmi prepares to introduce eight new Middle East routes.

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