Major airlines have stopped selling airline tickets through travel agents in Greece.As seemingly endless discussions about the economic future of Greece continued over the weekend, airlines grew concerned that, with capital controls in place in Greece, they might not get paid. Yesterday, at the 11th hour, Greece was reported to have agreed to tough reforms after marathon talks with eurozone leaders, in return for a three-year bailout worth up to EUR 86 billion euros.
That may go some way to meeting the airlines’ concerns.
Over the past few days, several airlines halted sales through travel agents and tour operators, citing unease about whether they would be paid. Queues at Athens International airport ticket desks grew steadily.
Turkish Airlines, Emirates and Qatar Airways were among major carriers involved, Euronews news channel reported. Pegasus and Air Transat are also on the list.
The Greek travel agents association claims ticket sales worth about EUR 100 million (AUD 150 million) a month are at stake.
“These people [the travel agents] will be suffering,” George Paliaouras of the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies said.
“They are losing business already to the recession and now they are losing business at the direct competition against the airlines”.
Turkish Airlines, which has flown to Greece for 68 years, said the decision was “due to the unpredictability of the economic situation”.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said it was up to individual airlines to decide which agents they granted ticketing authority to.
Lufthansa, Austrian, Swiss and Brussels were yesterday to be still selling tickets paid for with credit cards, with no restrictions, Reuters reported.
Ryanair, which normally sells tickets online, last week said it would allow Greek customers to pay cash.
Edited by William Sykes