TRAVEL agents are meeting airline chiefs in a bid to protect their shrinking commissions from ticket sales. Travel Industry Council [TIC] executive director Joseph Tung Yao-chung said the aim was to shore up the nine per cent commission airlines traditionally paid for each ticket sale. Mr Tung said airlines hit by the economic downturn were increasingly paying as little as three per cent for cut-price, special promotional fares, Mr Tung said. 'It's common practice that the airlines should give nine per cent commission to the agents for full, published fares,' he said. 'But airlines have been promoting special fares . . . and sometimes it's as low as three to four per cent commission. It depends on the fare, the destination and the season. 'Agents are not too happy and we're trying to negotiate with the airlines. We're hoping agents will retain the nine per cent commission.' Century Travel manager Calvin Lam Sze-tat said some airlines were trying to reduce payments to travel agents. 'Singapore Airlines tried to do business directly with corporations and big companies which do a lot of business. They try to cut out the travel agents,' Mr Lam said. Many airlines constantly changed their published full fares and set them at levels which were too high for most travellers, he said. Agents sometimes steered customers towards airlines which paid better commissions for the same route and many received just five per cent commission for domestic flights in Asia. 'If [airlines] don't give enough commission, we just won't sell their products,' Mr Lam said. However, airlines generally offered agents a set price for special promotions, allowing them to add their own commission and determine the selling price. Mr Tung said the TIC was also negotiating with airlines over airport tax collection. Until an agreement is reached, passengers can pay the $50 tax when buying flight tickets from a travel agent, or pay at airline check-in counters.