Legislation and strict repatriation protocols have cut agents out when it comes to booking repatriation flights for their stranded clients. But at least two airlines have swooped in to reward agents for their efforts.
According to several agents, Emirates and Turkish Airlines are offering agents a reward for every passenger they are able to put on one of their repatriation flights.
To get this benefit, agents must contact an airline rep, hand over all the necessary client information and, once payment is made, the airlines will pay the agents their commission directly.
The first round in June of Emirates’ repatriation flights were very popular and one ITC, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Travel News that she already had a waiting list of 40 pax for the July flights. According to this ITC, agents can earn up to R1 500 per passenger.
At the time of publishing, Emirates was awaiting approval from DIRCO for next set of repatriation flights for July 10, 12 and 14. Two Turkish Airlines repatriation flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town to Chicago are scheduled to take off today (July 9) and another is scheduled for July 14. The reward for agents on this airline’s flights is R1 000 per person.
“While we are not permitted to offer these flights via the GDS, we still believe that the travel agent plays a crucial role in the success of the airline industry. It is for this reason, that we offer a referral fee of R1 000 to any bona fide travel agent for each passenger that is accepted for our repatriation flights,” says Trevor Brown, of Turkish Airlines marketing in Cape Town.
The anonymous ITC said she hoped other airlines implemented this incentive because the ‘direct bookings only’ process (reported by Travel News on June 9) was diverting work and income away from agents.
“We are the ones who know the clients who need the service and can help them navigate the technicalities like documentation and luggage allowances. The airlines also benefit because they can fill up the aircraft more quickly than when they were relying on direct bookings,” she said.
Travel News contacted Emirates for comment but received no response.