AITO has predicted that several of its agent members will ‘de-rack’ Thomas Cook product if its merger with The Co-operative Travel and Midlands Co-operative gets the go-ahead. A survey of the AITO Specialist Travel Agents members found that 86% would switch sell and 77% did not agree with the merger. “Our members already sell away from the big boys when appropriate for individual customer needs, but this merger will only reinforce this further and the survey results show that AITO Agent members will do what they can to avoid supporting such a large player in the market place,” said Oliver Broad, chairman of AIRO Specialist Traevl Agents. “We have recently seen members de-racking Complete Cruise Solution products after they cut commission and I expect the same will happen with Thomas Cook products next.” Some members said the move would be anti-competitive, although it would generate more awareness for AITO’s independent status. “It seems that they [Thomas Cook] intend to eliminate as much competition as possible and that their aim is to be the ‘Tesco of travel’ within three years,” said Peter Buckell, managing director of Global Travel Lounge, Norwich. The association’s members were undecided if AITO Agents should raise issues with the Competition Commission about the merger in light of the increased independent exposure view.