Passengers entitled to full refund for tickets booked for air travel during Lockdown 1 and 2: Centre tells Supreme Court
Litigation News

Passengers entitled to full refund for tickets booked for air travel during Lockdown 1 and 2: Centre tells Supreme Court

This was informed in response to a plea whereby it was pointed out that passengers did not intend to avail the Credit Shell created by airlines in lieu of refund and urging that passengers should be given a full refund.

Debayan Roy

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has informed the Supreme Court that tickets booked by passengers in domestic and international carriers for air travel between March 25 to May 3, 2020, i.e. during the first two phases of the COVID-19 lockdown, will be fully refunded.

This was informed after a June 13 order from the top court that had asked private airlines along with the Ministry of Civil Aviation to find a way out to refund the airfare of passengers whose flights were cancelled during the lockdown.

The Centre has stated that non-refund of air tickets booked during the lockdown and the creation of an involuntary credit shell by airlines violates the Civil Aviation Requirements and provisions of the Aircraft Rules of 1937.

A non-profit organisation, Pravasi Legal Cell, through Advocate Jose Abraham had filed a petition in the top Court saying that passengers did not intend to avail of the Credit Shell created by airlines within the stipulated period and that they should be given a full refund in respect of air travel cancelled owing to the lockdown.

The Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul and MR Shah had said, “The credit facility that you grant must be for at least two years and passengers should be allowed to avail it across all sectors.”

In an affidavit filed by the DGCA, it has now been informed that meetings were held with all the stakeholders in July and it was decided that tickets booked directly by passengers during Lockdown 1 and 2 will be fully refunded.

The affidavit further states that for all other cases, the airlines shall make all endeavours to refund the fare within 15 days.

"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," reads the affidavit.

The passenger shall be able to consume the credit shell up to March 31, 2021 on any route of his choice. If the passenger wants to buy a ticket of value more than the credit shell, then he can use cash to top it up.

The affidavit also states that the credit shell shall be transferable.

"The passenger can transfer the credit shell to any person, and the airlines shall honour such a transfer. The airlines shall devise a mechanism to facilitate such a transfer. By the end of March, 2021, the Airlines shall refund cash to the holder of the credit shell."

reads the affidavit by the DGCA

The Centre has also informed the Supreme Court that if the tickets have been booked during the lockdown period for travel within the lockdown period, full refund shall be given by the airlines immediately. This amount shall be passed on immediately by the agent to the passengers.

Similar refund conditions apply for international travel via domestic and foreign carriers, the Centre has informed.

Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news