Saturday, March 28, 2020

India lockdown: Airlines offer sops to stop passengers from cancelling tickets

New Delhi: If you are among the passengers whose air travel plans have been disrupted due to the ban on flights because of coronavirus, then be prepared for a long wait for getting refunds, or even rescheduling your travel plans for tickets booked during this period.

Technically, passengers should get a full refund if the ticket is fully unused and a partial refund if the air ticket is partially used, but this may not be the case after the coronavirus pandemic is over. Further, the onus of rebooking your flight is on you. If the booking has been made through travel agents or online travel portals, passengers will have to contact their travel agents or portals for making any changes in the tickets.
The reasoning for this is simple: Aviation is a cash flow business, and airlines need the money. Hence, instead of giving refunds, airlines are offering incentives to keep the money you have already paid for tickets during this 21-day lockdown period.
The sops on offer vary. Emirates, the Dubai-based airline, is offering passengers the choice of extending the booking for 24 months from the time that the booking was made by calling their call centres. It is also offering the option of requesting for a travel voucher for trips for up to one year ahead.

Similarly, low-cost airline AirAsia, is offering a one-year window to convert flights to credits, and booking a new flight or free unlimited date changes. This offer has been extended till May 31.

IndiGo, the market leader with a market share of close to 50 per cent in India, is offering the option of getting full credit, which can be used before September 30, 2020, if a passenger hasbooked to travel before April 30, and the flight is cancelled.

“Aviation is a cash flow business. Just as a passenger needs cash, so do airlines. The mantra of every airline is to conserve cash,” said an India-based senior executive with a foreign airline.

Industry watchers also believe that it is up to individuals to rebook their flights, and the airlines are likely to follow a ‘first-come-first-serve’ policy once operations resume.

In effect, what this means is that the person who makes the booking first will be given priority. This policy does not take into account of the fact if the passenger is stranded due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

“We are not moving people ourselves,” a senior official of a domestic airline said when asked whether airlines are moving passengers whose flights have been cancelled during the 21 day lockdown to another flight.

Another former revenue and route management head with a major Indian carrier said that there is “no way any airline can accommodate all the passengers of the flights that have been cancelled.”
28/03/20 Ashwini Phadnis/Business Line

To Read the News in full at Source, Click the Headline


Post a Comment