The Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) has set up an aviation committee to help small tour operator members negotiate more airline seats at better prices.

Speaking at the AITO Specialist Travel Agents (STA) conference in Warwick over the weekend, conference moderator Catherine Leech said the committee was set up last year after it was revealed agents were having to book with larger non-AITO tour operators, simply because they were the only ones with flights available.

The committee has already had two meetings with British Airways representatives and is hoping to widen the talks for the benefit of members.

She said: “Small AITO operators are losing business because they don’t have the muscle to negotiate with the airlines, and this is affecting the price and availability of seats.

“You (conference delegates) are having to book your customers with the big boys simply because they have access to the seats that small operators don’t.”