AER Lingus has angered the trade by not
consulting agents over its decision to chop commission to just 1%.

The
Irish flag carrier will drop its current 4% rate from September 1 in an effort
to mimic the cost base of Ryanair, its main competitor on UK to Ireland routes.

But
furious ABTA aviation board director Sandy MacPherson said the airline showed a
lack of “courtesy” by not bothering to let the industry body know.

He
said: “I am absolutely appalled they have not had the decency to even pick up
the phone to tell us in advance. Courtesy is free and easy to offer.”

Aer
Lingus said it has faxed all International Air Transport Association agents
warning them of the change but did not feel it necessary to consult with the
trade. Agents now fear other carriers will follow suit, as many did when
Lufthansa reduced commission from 7% to 4% last year. Only Flybe and Loganair
has dropped to the 1% rate so far.

Advantage
Business Travel Centres director Norman Gage said: “It will be like a pack of
cards again – they all seem to follow each other. At the end of the day, the
airline financial guy is now king.”

Manchester-based
Dykes Travel managing director Geoff Dykes said IATA should consider changing
the rule dictating airlines have to pay commission to agents so the trade can
switch to charging fees.

“To be honest the cost of
administering the 1% is not worth it. It would be much simpler if everyone just
started to charge fees,” he said