‘Reduce existing taxes’
Addressing the pressing issue of FDI, he adds, “Yes, FDI will help, but only partly and in short term. Due to accumulated losses of 4-5 years, our airlines have slipped into deep financial crisis. It will certainly bring them immediate relief if they can get an investor to infuse some funds with a view to repaying their loans and enabling them to continue their operations in an uninterrupted manner. However, in the longer run, the airlines have to learn to manage their operations in a more professional and cost effective manner, and devise ways and means to ensure that the fares are at reasonable levels relative to the cost of operation. As cartelisation is not permissible, each airline will have to devise its own strategy to overcome this difficult situation.”
Air connectivity will continue to be essential for economic progress of the country. Eapen suggests that the Government should look into the problems faced by the sector sympathetically and do whatever it can to save it from becoming sick. “The Government should avoid any new taxation in the air travel sector. Effort should be made to reduce even the existing taxes.”
The association is extremely unhappy about the reduction in commissions for the agents. The pending cases on commission – the zero commission by 16 foreign airlines issue and the reduction of commission from 3 to 1 per cent by Air India and Jet Airways, which were pending before the Kerala High Court, stands the hearing completed last week of October and now reserved for an order. With regard to weekly payment issue, the review petition filed by four IAAI members from Chennai was dismissed due to a few restrictions in time limit.
“Our advice to the Travel Agent is to know their strength to fight for their rights. They are still in the dark and not aware of many rules and regulations, which favour them. There are many countries in the world where the payment pattern period is still fortnightly and others where the payment period to IATA is one month. Unbelievable isn’t it. We have succumbed too easily,” says Kuku S. Kumar, Director-Northern Region, IAAI.