Air India is allowing travel agents to sell seats only on select flights under the Vande Bharat Mission and "other inventories have been blocked", the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) has alleged. In a statement late on Thursday night, it alleged that at a juncture when economies are trying to revive and come back on their feet, Air India continues to play "monopolistic".
"After our repeated request to your good-selves, agents were permitted to book on the GDS (global distribution system), but now inventories have been blocked and selective sectors are only being permitted. This is totally unfair and biased," it added.
The TAAI has over 2,500 travel agent companies as its members. "We once again request you (Civil Aviation Ministry and Air India) to ensure that accredited member travel agents are given due respect and permitted to promote and sell airline seats... on all sectors that are being operated by Air India under the Vande Bharat Mission," it said.
Moreover, Air India should withdraw its statements asking the passengers to report any issue of overcharging by travel agents for flights under Vande Bharat Mission. "Such communications (of Air India) are demeaning to our member agents in the trade who you call 'Travel Partners'."
The TAAI has written two letters on this matter -- one on July 30 and another on August 6 -- to the Civil Aviation Ministry and Air India. On July 29, Air India had said on Twitter that passengers booking tickets through travel agents on international flights operating under the Vande Bharat Mission must not pay more than the fares mentioned on Air India's website.
It had added: "Passengers facing any issue of overcharging by travel agents may kindly write to us on email@example.com." Scheduled international passenger flights continue to remain suspended in India since March 23 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
However, since May 6, special international flights were being operated by Air India under the Vande Bharat Mission to help people stranded abroad reach their destinations. Private carriers too have operated a certain number of flights under this mission.