Agents divided over EK price hike impact

Guest Writer

Dubai’s travel agents are divided over the impact recent Emirates Airline price hikes will have on consumer sentiment.
Corporate-focused agents tend to think increases will make little difference to customer attitude towards the airline while other agents think the move is “arrogant”, particularly given Emirates’ recent mega profits announcements.
Distribution of the memo informing agents of the price adjustment also seems to be sporadic, with many claiming they didn’t receive notification of price increases from 15 May.
“Once again we were not advised by memo or by any other communication that there would be a hike – I read it like everyone else in the local newspaper,” said Sandra Owen, the Managing Director of Dubai-based Al Arabi Travel Agency.
“Frankly, coming on the back of the announcement of huge profits for Emirates and passengers having to put up with the huge disruption with the ash clouds, (which granted is not their fault, but it is disruption), I don’t think it will go down well at all.
“Emirates has become extremely arrogant in its approach to both agents and clients and what it seems to forget is that there are other airlines out there that are just as good, if not better than Emirates.”
The first many agents heard of price increases was when Gulf News reported them last week.
Some agents said fare hikes were expected as the market approached peak travel season.
“Frankly, I don’t think there will be much adverse impact as the market expects increases during this time of the year,” said BCD Travel Managing Director Middle East Sumit Acharya.
“I didn’t see the circular, but our branches did receive it. However, as is the usual practice, the circular was sent out on Thursday evening giving very little time or chance for people to issue tickets on the lower fares.”
When asked about the fare increases, an Emirates spokesperson told TDME: “Like every commercially-oriented business, Emirates regularly reviews its fares to reflect market dynamics including demand. We remain committed to providing our customers with excellent service and a strong value-for-money proposition.”
Emirates flight price increases come just one week after the Emirates Group reported a record profit increase of 248% to AED 4.2 billion (US$ 1.1 billion) for the 2009-2010 financial year ending 31 March, 2010.

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