Caught in the middle of the fuel price war in the tourist industry are the travel agents. With airlines being left will little option but to increase air fares in order to compensate for the rising operational costs and the financial burden being put on the traveller, travel agents are struggling to maintain their once mighty market position and the airlines are doing little to help travel agents, in fact they are the root cause of the travel agents' predicament. Over the past few years, airlines have been reducing the amount of commission paid to travel agents on flight sales, and a recent study carried out by the National Association of Travel Agents in the European Union (ECTAA) and Consortium of Business Travel Agents (GEBTA), on average, it costs a travel agent 35'5 Euros or 5'000 pesetas to issue a ticket. But the airlines when they modified their commissions rates, or in some cases reducing the percentage to next to nothing, gave no consideration to the “real costs” incurred by travel agents. In some cases, the cost of issuing a ticket could be lower at 3'500 pesetas, but at the other extreme, depending on the kind of ticket, the process could cost a travel agent as much as 11'000 pesetas. It appears that airlines are planning further commission modifications and the study carried out by ECTAA and GEBTA is going to be used in negotiations with the airlines to try and reach a better deal.


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