Virgin attacked over stance on commission rate

Virgin attacked over stance on commission rate

VIRGIN Atlantic has been accused of hypocrisy for criticising British Airways’ incentive scheme.

The Gatwick-based carrier, which was instrumental in getting the European Commission to rule that BA’s marketing practices are unfair, has said it will keep the 10% commission it introduced at the beginning of July so long as agents can increase their sales with the airline.

St Andrews Travel managing director Andrew Dickson said: “Virgin is being hypocritical. It is trying to incentivise its customers by offering higher levels of commission.

“The airline keeps putting out faxes saying it will pay 10% while BA will only pay 7%. In my book that is incentivising agents. It is exactly what BA is doing.

“It seems people who wish they were in the same position as BA are intent on being mischievous.

“They are doing the same thing but they would be the first to complain if it was the other way round. They love to be different and they make a lot of mileage from it.”

Maersk DFDS managing director Mike Carrivick said:”Virgin appears to be using a very fine legal argument based on the fact that BAis the national carrier, but other airlines, including Virgin, offer incentives.”

Thomas Cook commercial manager leisure air Ian Swain said:”The area that BA is being criticised for is fairly common. BA is far from being the only airline to do this.”

Bath Travel joint managing director and ABTA Travel Agents’ Council chairman Stephen Bath said:”I’m surprised Virgin has got this to happen as a large number of airlines operate reward schemes.”

A Virgin spokesman said: “It is utter rubbish that Virgin is hyprocritical. BA has abused its dominant position.”

Meanwhile, ABTA chief executive Ian Reynolds feared the EC ruling could force corporate clients to go direct to BA.

He said:”Under the ruling, there is no constraints on BA offering the discount direct to corporate clients.

“This could drive corporate clients to go direct to the airline. It shows what a nonsense the ruling is.”

n See Virgin story page 4 and Comment, page 6


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