AGENTS have rounded on British Airways for scrapping
sector payments and leaving them with just a derisory 1% commission.

The trade is furious BA made the change without
consultation and has vowed to switch sell. ABTA aviation board director Sandy
MacPherson said: “As far as BA is concerned, it’s a done deal. We discussed
Fresh Approach for a year and prepared agents for the change. This is derisory.
Agents’ reward for accepting Fresh Approach is a further erosion of income.”

Clive Green Travel owner Clive Green slammed BA for
letting agents waste resources updating their systems to accommodate sector
payments. 

He said: “Distribution has a price and BA will rue the
day it did this because it’s losing touch entirely. Any agent who thinks 1% is
a suitable compensation for all the work we do and flak we take because of BA
is mad.”

Advantage director of business travel Norman Gage said
going back on sector payments will incense its members.

“When Fresh Approach was launched, BA
said ‘this is it, we are paying you a fair reward for doing the job’. But now
the agent has got to go and talk to the corporate client about a higher transaction
fee.”

Gage said BA’s announcement will go down like a lead
balloon predicting it could destabilise the small and medium-sized business
market with more clients booking direct or going to a large travel management
company.

Midconsort chief executive Charles Eftichiou described
the cuts as “a silly and cheap exercise”. “It’s the wrong direction, BA should
be looking for more business, not cutting it back.”

He attacked BA chief executive Rod Eddington for being
a “hatchet man” who was brought in to do BA’s “dirty work”.

Guild of Business Travel
Agents chief executive Philip Carlisle said he was disappointed the time and
effort put in to help BA construct sector payments had gone out of the window.
But BA head of UK sales Tiffany Hall hit back, stating agents had to realise
the airline is operating in a different market to five years ago. “We would
have loved a period of stability,” she said. “But could we have predicted the
growth of low-costs, the war, the change in business travel? The answer is no.”