All flight tickets booked between March 25 and May 3 for domestic and international carriers to be ‘fully refunded’ – UKMALAYALEE

All flight tickets booked between March 25 and May 3 for domestic and international carriers to be ‘fully refunded’

Sunday 6 September 2020 7:46 PM UTC

NEW DELHI Sept 6: Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) told Supreme Court on Sunday that passengers, who booked flight tickets in domestic and international carriers for air travel between March 25 to May 3, 2020, which was the first two phases of lockdown, will be “fully refunded.”

“Non-refund of air tickets booked during lockdown and creation of involuntary credit shell by airlines is a violation of Civil Aviation Requirements and provisions of the Aircraft Rules of 1937,” DGCA told the Supreme Court.

Earlier, a bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan issued notices to the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) seeking their replies on the plea which has alleged that airlines have failed to refund the ticket amount and are “illegally imposing” the mechanism of ‘credit shell’ on unwilling passengers. “Issue notice,” said the bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and M R Shah.

The plea, filed by the Air Passengers Association of India, claimed that refusal to refund the amount is “arbitrary” and is in blatant violation of the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) as acceptance of ‘credit shell’ is at the sole discretion of the passengers.

“It is submitted that the airlines are illegally imposing the mechanism of ‘credit shell’ on the unwilling passengers. The concept refers to a form of credit note which can be used to make a new booking with the same airline for a period so provided by the airline, usually of one year, as is being offered by most of the airlines,” said the plea, filed through advocate Rohit Rathi.

The plea said the office memorandum further directed that for ticket booked during the first lockdown period for travel during the second lockdown period from April 15 to May 3 and the passenger seeking refund on cancellation of ticket, the airline shall refund the full amount without levy of cancellation charges. It said the DGCA had issued a circular on April 19 directing the airlines to refrain from booking tickets for journeys to be undertaken with effect from May 4.

The plea claimed that despite the directives of the ministry and the DGCA, the airlines have failed to refund the ticket amount.

It added, “From the date of cancellation of ticket up to June 30, 2020, the value of credit shell shall be enhanced by 0.5 per cent of the face value (the amount of fare collected) for every month or part thereof between the date of cancellation and June 30, 2020. Thereafter, the value of credit shell shall be enhanced by 0.75 per cent of the face value per month, up to March 2021.”

The regulator also proposed the credit shell shall be transferable and to any person, and the airlines shall honour such a transfer. “The airlines shall devise a mechanism to facilitate such a transfer”, it said, adding that by the end of March 2021, the airlines shall refund cash to the holder of the credit shell.

The DGCA said that the airlines would also refund the full amount in case of travellers who have since expired to the account of the passenger or to his representative.

In anticipation that the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19 would be lifted, airlines had since the first week of April resumed bookings for travel after April 14. But when the lockdown was further extended, airlines deferred the resumption of flights.

It is worth mentioning, domestic flight operations were allowed to resume from 25 May with a limited capacity, after a gap of two months.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation on Wednesday announced that domestic flights can now operate with 60% capacity instead of the 40% capacity ordered earlier. – PTI

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