ABTAhas criticised British Airways’ new payment scheme, claiming it will disadvantage the smaller agent.

Aviation Committee chairman Sandy MacPherson said the level of fees proposed by BA to replace commission were not high enough.

“We are very disappointed with the result. The first figures BA came up were unacceptable and they have improved them since speaking to us but we still want to get the figures higher.”

He added: “We want to work with BA and have tried hard, but we have a big problem, especially with the decision to end the Interim Agency Bonus.”

BA head of UKand Ireland sales Tiffany Hall said that from April 1, after IAB ends, agents will be able to qualify for improved sales and marketing agreements if they reach a certain threshold of sales.

“More agents will get the sales and marketing agreement than got the previous marketing agreements,” she said.

But MacPherson was unconvinced, as he said smaller agents would not have access to the new agreements as the threshold will be too high.

He said: “It appears the small agencies do not matter and the danger is that BA is putting weight behind the big agents.”

ABTAchief executive Ian Reynolds said, unlike the Guild of Business Travel Agents, he had not accepted the basic principles of the scheme and would be holding further talks with the airline.

“Our concern is to make sure our members are not disadvantaged. We have a system which has served us well and we don’t want something which is just a commission cut in disguise.”

Hall could not give exact figures for what BA will pay when it scraps commission next January because she said it had not yet been decided. However, she said proposals to pay £5 to £15 per sector depending on the value of a booking were on the table.

“The more complicated ticket, like a premium flexible ticket, will have a higher fee. The principle strategy is for a fair reward set at a level for an efficient agent to make a profit.” she said.

January 2001

n Zero commission

n Booking fee to agents. BA proposes to pay £5 a sector for domestic and short-haul economy bookings; £10 a sector for short-haul premium and long-haul economy bookings; and £15 for long-haul premium bookings.

n A money collection fee to agents not using BA’s card acceptance agreements. BA proposes to pay 1.25% of the fare’s value.

n BA will encourage agents to charge service fees to clients.

From April 1 2000

n Interim Agency Bonus scrapped to be replaced by 7% commission and new sales and marketing agreements if agents reach a certain threshold of sales. BA has yet to set the threshold.

n BA will fine agents £25 for issuing a ticket on departure when an electronic ticket is available.