Cancelled Flights: DGCA Issues Refund Rules After SC Order

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NEW DELHI: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has issued detailed guidelines for refund of fares for flights cancelled during Covid-19 lockdown after the Supreme Court recently decided on the issue. The regulator, based on SC directives, has categorised refund seekers into three categories and issued different directives for them.

Category 1

Passenger who booked tickets during lockdown for travel during lockdown from 25 March 25,2020, to May 24: If an airline has received payment from such a passenger for either domestic or international travel, it “shall refund the full amount collected without any cancellation charges … within three weeks from the date of cancellation,” the DGCA order says.

If tickets have been booked through a travel agent, “full refund shall be given by airlines immediately to the respective travel agent (who in turn) shall immediately pass on (the same) to passengers.”

Airlines, both Indian and foreign, will need to refund full fares to category 1 passengers who booked ex-India tickets for international travel.

Category 2

Passengers who booked tickets any time prior to lockdown for journey up to May 24, 2020, and flight cancelled due Covid-19: “Airlines shall make all endeavours to refund the collected amount to the passenger within 15 days from October 7, 2020. If on account of financial distress, any airline/airlines are not able to do so, they shall provide credit shell, equal to the amount of fare collected, in the name of passenger when the booking is done either directly by the passenger or through travel agent so as to consume (utilise) the same on or before March 31, 2021,… on any route of (their) choice or the passenger can transfer the credit shell to any person including the travel agent through whom he / she has booked the ticket and the airlines shall honour such a transfer,” the order says.

The credit shell issued in the name of the passenger shall be transferable and used for travel up to March 31, 2021. “In cases where tickets are booked through agent, credit shell as issued in the name of the passenger which is not utilised by March 31, 2021, refund of the fare collected shall be made to the same account from which account amount was received by the airline,” it adds.

Based on SC directives, the DGCA has asked airlines to incentivise all those issued credit shells. “…compensate the passenger from the date of cancellation up to June 30, 2020, in which event the credit shell shall be enhanced by 0.5% 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 the credit shell shall be enhanced by 0.75% of the face value per month up to March 31, 2021,” it says.

Category 2 passengers who have booked ticket for international travel on a foreign carrier and the booking is ex-India, “then the airline shall make full refund to the passenger”.

Category 3

Passengers who booked ticket anytime for journey after May, 24, 2020: Normal refund rules as per applicable civil aviation requirements (rules) of DGCA will apply to category 3 passengers whether domestic or ex-India International.

“All stakeholders are instructed to ensure strict compliance of the directions issued by the Supreme Court in the above judgement,” says the order issued to all schedule Indian and foreign airlines operating to and from India, by the DGCA on Wednesday.

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