WestJet airlines’s move, to cut commissions to 4% on bookings made via Agent WebLink online, a GDS, or a Group Booking made through the Sales Super Centre after July 1, 2009 has upset travel agents. This is a disappointing turn of events from a company that endeared itself to the travel agency community in 2001 when it chastised other airlines for turning their backs on agents once they had majority market share. In the letter dated Sept. 04 2001 to agencies WestJet went on to say “…we would like to ask you our partners in the industry, for a larger portion of your business… with your support, and increased business, we will be encouraged to invest further in this partnership, one we believe is beneficial for your agency, our airline, and the travelling public.”
This commission cut means that the airline has reduced the amount agents are compensated by more than 50% since 2001.
David McCaig, President and C.O.O. of the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA), stated “The reduction or removal of commissions continues to challenge travel agencies’ profitability. This move will also have a negative impact on consumers as consequentially; access to the primary distribution channel for airline tickets may be reduced. Without an efficient and motivated retail agent distribution network, consumers could face dealing with the airline, with fewer fare options.”
ACTA President David McCaig, will be encouraging WestJet to work with the Canadian Travel Agency community. “I believe WestJet can examine avenues to create more profitable revenue opportunities for agencies and agents. They must be willing to provide alternate income sources to replace these lost commissions and work with the agencies that have supported them.” McCaig went on to say, “WestJet should examine the prospects of leveraging our members’ strengths in the Canadian marketplace and come up with a win/win situation for all involved.”