Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has issued guidelines regarding refund on cancellation of air tickets amid pandemic lockdown. DGCA has asked ‘all stakeholders’ to ensure ‘strict compliance’ of the directions issued by the Supreme Court in the judgment. Sunil Kumar, Joint Director General at the office of DGCA, has issued the guidelines to all scheduled Indian airlines, and International airlines operating to/from India.
As per the guidelines, in accordance with the Supreme Court directions, the passengers whose air tickets were cancelled due to COVID-19 and were seeking refund could be divided into three categories. The first category is of passengers who had booked tickets during lockdown for travel during lockdown (from March 25 to May 24). The second category is of passengers who had booked tickets any time prior to lockdown but journey was scheduled up to May 24 and tickets were cancelled due to COVID-19. The third category is of passengers who had booked ticket any time but for journey after May 24.
For the first category of passengers, the respective airlines have been asked to refund the full amount collected without any cancellation charges, if tickets were booked during lockdown period for travel during lockdown and the airline had received payment for booking of air ticket for travel during the same period and the passenger had sought refund against that booking being cancelled. “The refund shall be made within a period of three weeks from the date of cancellation,” it added. If tickets were booked during lockdown period through travel agent for travel during lockdown period, the airlines have been asked to give refund immediately to respective travel agent. The agent shall pass on such refund to the passengers. In respect of passengers in second category, DGCA has asked the airlines to ‘make all endeavours to refund the collected amount to the passenger within 15 days’. If on account of financial distress, any airline is unable to do so, it shall provide ‘credit shell’ equal to the amount of fare collected, in the name of passenger when the booking is done either directly by passenger or through travel agent ‘so as to consume the same on or before March 31, 2021.’ It is open to such passenger either to utilize such credit shell up to March 31, 2021, ‘on any route of his choice’. Or, the passenger can transfer the credit shell to any person including the travel agent through whom he has booked the ticket, and the airlines ‘shall honour’ such a transfer. For the passengers in the third category, refund of such fares shall be governed by the provisions of applicable Civil Aviation Requirements.