Flight tickets booked during lockdown to be fully refunded: DGCA informs SC

The Central Government in an affidavit filed has informed Supreme court that full refund will be made for all tickets (Domestic, International and foreign carriers) booked during the Covid-19 lockdown of 25 March to 3 May, 2020.

The Centre while referring to the ticket booked during the lockdown stated that “non- refund of fares/creating involuntary credit shell by the airlines would be in violation of the aforementioned Civil Aviation Requirements(CAR) and passenger charter which may result in initiation of enforcement action for violation of CAR and also as per the provisions of the Aircraft Rules, 1937.”

Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) filed the affidavit in compliance of the 12 June apex court order. The court on 12 June had had directed the civil aviation ministry to schedule a meeting with airlines and devise modalities to make refunds to passengers.

The affidavit states that about four meeting took place in July under the Chairpersonship of Secretary Civil Aviation through Video Conferencing to discuss issues relating to refund of air fare by airlines The representatives of Go Air, Air India, Air India Express, Vistara, Indigo, Air Asia and Spicejet were also a part of this meeting.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has proposed workable solution to harmonize the interests of passengers and viability of the airlines to an extent.

Affidavit stated that the tickets which have been booked during the first lockdown period, i.e. 25th of March, 2020 to 14th of April, 2020 for the journeys to be undertaken in both first and second lockdown period i.e. from 25th of March, 2020 to 3rd of May, 2020, in all such cases, full refund shall be given by the airlines immediately

The Centre also said “If on account of financial distress, if the airlines are not able to do so they shall provide a credit shell equal to the amount of fare collected. This credit shell shall be issued in the name of the passenger who has booked the ticket”

The Centre has granted the passenger time till 31 March, 2021 to use the credit shell on any route of his choice.

The passenger has also been given the liberty to buy a ticket of value more than the credit shell and then use cash to top it up. For tickets of lesser value than the credit shell, the passenger can balance the amount of credit shell.

“The airlines shall refund the full amount in case of travellers who have since expired to the account of the passenger or to his representative.”

The credit shell shall be transferable. The passenger can transfer the credit shell to any person, and the airlines shall honour such a transfer, said Centre.

The refund conditions formulated fro domestic travel will also be applicable for international travel on both domestic and international foreign carriers, the Centre has informed.

In all cases the refund by the airlines have to be initiated within 15 days, said Centre.

On 12 June the op court had asked the Centre and airlines to file a reply on the issue within three weeks. The bench had also proposed that airlines provide a credit shell with a two-year validity against flight bookings that were cancelled during the lockdown.

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