General Sales Agents – GSA

Consider an Airline having flights to 200 destinations across the globe. To open her own office in each city, airline may face plenty of obstacles in terms of local rules of each country for hiring staff, office rents, marketing & sales, taxations, etc.

Sometimes airlines prefer to transfer all this issues to one exclusive Agent to act as Airline representative in once city or one country and replace the Airline.

This agent is called General Sales Agent – GSA. This agent (GSA) will be responsible to do the marketing and sales in his region and select nominated agents to give them the AWB stock and receive proper Bank Guarantee (BG). GSA will also be responsible for arranging operational issues and be in contact with Ground Handling Agent (GHA) to arrange and plan for loadings, manifesting and other operational issues.

This way, GSA is considered as the replacement of the airline in that country. GSA will be responsible to select Agents in the country and offer the rates and service of the Airline to the Agents.  

GSA is also being called GSSA – General Sales and Service agent.

Commissions & Selling Rates

To perform such activity, GSA will receive a percentage of monthly sales, as income. A GSA shall have proper certificates from Civil Aviation Organization (CAO) of his country and other related authorities enabling them to perform as General Sales Agent of the Carrier.

GSA should have professional and trained staff for Marketing and Sales and also be in direct contact with GHA (Ground Handling Agent) to arrange and provide plan for loading of shipments, booking the shipments in reservation system of the airline, if applicable, monitor the sales reports of the agents, collet freight charges form the agents and may also be involved in payment of some charges to GHA, on behalf of the Carrier.

A GSA should have proper knowledge of Airline Industry and how operational issues should be done as well as having Marketing & Sales knowledge. In operation side, GSA should be in contact with GHA and in Marketing side, GSA should select Agents to sell for the Airline and pay them commissions or offer them rates and allowing them to add whatever they fill necessary, to the rates and sell to their customers.

Selling rate of the airline may not be increased by the GSA while they sell locally to the agents in that country, as GSA is receiving commission from the airline for the services they provide. However, based on the size of the airline and destinations they fly, some airlines may offer the rates to a GSA and ask them to fill the capacity of the aircraft in their own ways and methods.

In some countries, a forwarder may be able to act as AGENT or as GSA. One Agent may not be able to act as an Agent and GSA simultaneously with one single certificate. However, there are countries that one Agent can receive certificate from Civil Aviation (CAO) to act as Agent as well as a GSA.

Conflict of Interest between GSA & Agent

The best practice for an airline is, not allowing the GSA to sell directly to the customers and shippers. If they allowed to sell direct, other Agents who are willing to act as representative of the airline, may be hesitated to offer their cargo to the GSA and consequently to the Airline. The reason is, GSA will have all the data of the Agents and their customers, and can be in direct communication with the customers, offering them lower rate and enjoy extra benefit for issuing AWB as well as receiving their own commission of being a GSA.  

Conflict of Interest for Airlines

GSA may act as exclusive sales agent of one or more airlines. Airlines normally prefer to select a GSA who is not selling the same routes and destinations of the other Carrier. For example, if a GSA is being selected as GSA of Qatar Airways, most probably that GSA cannot be selected by Emirates Airline, as these two airlines are almost flying to same major destinations. However, this agent may be selected by a Canadian Airline to sell their services to the customers as well as being GSA for Qatar Airways.