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The airline industry is in a state of severe flux

Travel agents face turbulence along with airlines

Fuel costs, credit crunches, open skies, blurring frontiers between the types of air travellers and airline business models. The airline industry is in a state of severe flux. Travel agencies are no better off, according to Mr Gerry Oh, Vice President Southeast Asia and Australia for Jet Airways (India). Addressing the ITB Asia Convention aviation forum on 24 October, he said: “If times are tough for airlines, they are even tougher for travel agents. We have seen over the last twenty years a complete shift in booking channels – the rise of internet and online services such as online travel agents and a rapid decrease of the travel agencies’ market share.”

He said airlines are especially pushing e-booking through their websites as it helps them lower their distribution costs. It also gives them direct contact with their customers. Travel agencies will have no other choice than to redefine their activities by becoming highly specialised. “There will still be niches for travel agents such as setting up multi-destination itineraries, group packages, dynamic travel packaging and corporate travel, all of which require expertise,” said Mr. Oh.

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