Monday, September 07, 2020

Airlines required to refund passengers, but forcing them may be ‘counter-productive’: DGCA to SC

New Delhi: Airlines are required to refund passengers for flights cancelled during the Covid-driven lockdown period but forcing them to do so may be “counter-productive” in view of the liquidity crunch the sector is facing, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has told the Supreme Court while suggesting a “workable solution” that considered the best interests of flyers as well as companies.

In an affidavit filed in the SC, the DGCA has said airlines should “immediately” refund the ticket fares of passengers who booked their tickets during the lockdown period — between March 25 and May 3 — and were scheduled to travel in the period. However, for carriers facing “financial distress”, it has suggested setting up a transferable credit shell with life up to March 31, 2021 and a refund if the shell remains unused after that.

According to DGCA, airlines will have to make a full refund immediately to passengers who booked tickets — either individually or through a travel agent — on any domestic or international airlines (when the booking is ex-India) during and for travel in the lockdown period. The affidavit said that “this is being mandated … as the airlines were not supposed to book such tickets”. However, it added that the credit shell facility will not apply to tickets booked on international carriers where booking is ex-India.

“For all other cases, the airlines shall make all endeavours to refund the collected amount to the passenger within 15 days,” the affidavit added. The DGCA made it clear that refund is the rule and added that “non-refund of fares/ creating involuntary credit shell by airlines would be in violation of the CARs (Civil Aviation Requirements) and the passenger charter, which may result in initiation of enforcement action for violation of CARs and also as per provisions of the Aircraft Rules, 1937.”
07/09/20 Indian Express
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