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Full Refund For Passengers Who Booked Flight Tickers During Lockdown 1 And 2: DGCA Files Affidavit In SC

Sanya Talwar
6 Sep 2020 2:45 PM GMT
Full Refund For Passengers Who Booked Flight Tickers During Lockdown 1 And 2: DGCA Files Affidavit In SC
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After Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the top court that a solution has been arrived at so far as refunding airfare for flights booked during lockdown on Tuesday, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) filed an affidavit stating that tickets booked by passengers in domestic and international carriers for air travel between March 25 to May 3, 2020 will be fully refunded.

For domestic airlines when the ticket has been booked directly by the passenger with the airline, the passenger shall be able to consume the credit shell up to March 31, 2021.

If the tickets 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 (this is being mandated vide MoCA's OM dated 16th April, 2020 as the airlines were not supposed to book such tickets).

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.

For domestic airlines when the ticket has been booked through a travel agent (including OTA) by the passenger with the airline;

If the tickets have been booked during the lockdown period for travel within the lockdown period, in all such cases full refund shall be given by the airlines immediately (this is being mandated vide MoCA's OM dated 16th April, 2020 as the airlines were not supposed to book such tickets). This amount shall be passed on immediately by the Agent to the passengers.

For all other cases, the airlines shall make all endeavours to refund the collected amount within 15 days. This amount shall be passed on immediately by the Agent to the passengers.

For international travel when the ticket has been booked on an Indian carrier and the booking is exIndia;

If the tickets have been booked during the lockdown period for travel within the lockdown period, in all such cases full refund shall be given by the airlines immediately (this is being mandated vide MoCA's OM dated 16th April, 2020 as the airlines were not supposed to book such tickets). This amount shall be passed on immediately by the Agent to the passengers, as the case may be.

For international travel when the ticket has been booked on a foreign carrier and the booking is ex-India;

If the tickets have been booked during the lockdown period for travel within the lockdown period, in all such cases full refund shall be given by the airlines immediately (this is being mandated vide MoCA's OM dated 16th April,2020 as the airlines were not supposed to book such tickets). This amount shall be passed on immediately by the Agent to the passengers, as the case may be.

The Centre has also clarified neither the provisions of CARs were superseded nor the same were place under the suspension.

"It is submitted that the said order was issued primarily for two purposes:- firstly, to make it clear that airlines can't take the shelter of lockdown to deny the refund; and secondly, to give little extended time to the airlines to refund the fares as no operations were being allowed at that time and there was concerns of liquidity crunch with the airlines. However, it is respectfully submitted that order was never intended to violate any CAR."

On June 11, the top court had sought the Central Government's stand & had asked the Civil Aviation Ministry to discuss the modalities involved with all concerned airlines and respond to the Court. The SG had stated that his personal opinion was that the money ought to be refunded.

Senior Advocate Harish Salve had appeared on behalf of SpiceJet and had apprised the Court that Airlines had suffered a hit of over $60 Billion globally, due to the pandemic. It was further informed that 49% of the flying cost was fixed, with zero revenue to the airlines.

The plea has been filed by Pravasi Legal Cell on behalf of Advocate Jose Abraham and highlights that the action of non-refund by airlines of the full amount collected for tickets due to cancellation is "arbitrary and in violation of the Civil Aviation Requirement issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation".

Moreover, the petitioner had averred that instead of providing full refund of the amount collected, the action of Airlines of providing mandatory "Credit Shell" was in clear violation of the DGCA requirements according to which the option of refund is "the prerogative of the passenger and not a default practice of the Airline".

Furthermore, the plea states that airline companies should be showing "humanitarian virtues" rather than using the "challenging times as an opportunity to extract unlawful gains from people who are already in misery"

The petitioner also earmarks the rationale to this by stating that the question of anyone booking a ticket during the lockdown does not arise since passenger flights had already been cancelled and that this makes the Officer Memorandum dated April 16 "ambiguous" and "devoid of any logic" whatsoever.


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