Monday, May 22, 2023

Agents reluctant to sell GoFirst tickets

Travel agents, who are likely owed more than ₹500 crore by Go First Airlines, aren't willing to sell its tickets despite verbal requests from the airline, which has filed for bankruptcy protection. "The airline executives have told us it is trying its best to start operations from May 27. But at this point, we have no clue how Go will resume and sustain them," said a person in the know.

"We don't want to raise more refunds that will never be paid," he added. "Right now, our priority is to be included on the list of operational creditors when that's finalised and our claims to be recognised," he added. In the usual course of things, travel intermediaries get advance deposits for ticket sales, commissions and money for refunding customers from their airline client. Go didn't respond to an emailed set of queries before the story went to print on Sunday.

The airline has internally shared a target of May 27 for a fresh start of operations. The airline stopped flying on May 3, a day after it filed for voluntary insolvency in the bankruptcy court. On May 8, aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) sent it a notice to stop selling tickets.

"To be sure, there are tickets booked before the shutdown, but those won't even fill a fourth of flights, even if the airline starts operations on May 27. After Covid, most tickets for a flight are sold within a week to its departure date. And we have stopped selling Go for the last 15 days," said the person in the know.

Meanwhile, despite assurances to customers and directions from the DGCA, the airline has yet to refund customers.

"It has been offering credit shells to customers. But in 90% of the cases, it has been telling customers it has sent refund money to travel agents when it hasn't," said a senior executive at an online travel agent.

22/05/2023 Anirban Chowdhury/Economic Times

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