Govt tells airlines to refund fares for bookings during lockdown

Ghughuti Bulletin

Airlines will have to refund full fares, without imposing cancellation charges, to those who booked tickets during the first lockdown from 25 March to 14 April for travel between 25 March and 3 May, the civil aviation ministry said on Thursday.

The ministry has asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to ensure airlines comply with its directive.

“Grievances were received from air travellers regarding refund for flights cancelled because of the nationwide lockdown to combat COVID19. Advisories have been issued regarding refund for both domestic & international tickets booked for the flights suspended due to lockdown,” civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Twitter.

He said for tickets booked during the first lockdown stretching from 25 March till 14 April, for which payments were received by airlines, have to be refunded within three weeks of a request for cancellation from the passengers without levying any cancellation charges.

A similar refund process would have to be followed for those who have booked tickets during the first lockdown period for travel during the second lockdown starting 15 April till 3 May, Puri said.

A civil aviation ministry spokesperson, however, did not say how airlines could accept bookings between 25 March and 14 April when the government had suspended all air travel.

Airlines had since the first week of April resumed bookings for travel after 14 April anticipating that the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of covid-19 would be lifted. Once the lockdown was extended, airlines deferred the resumption of flights to 4 May. Most airlines have also waived off rescheduling fees for tickets booked during the lockdown period and asked passengers to reschedule their travel plans to a later date.

Senior aviation ministry officials on Wednesday met airline officials, including chief executive officers, to discuss advance ticket bookings during the lockdown period

“Some carriers have opened full schedule for sale from 4 May. Even if flights resume from that date, which is not certain, it is highly unlikely that full operations will resume from day 1. Further flight cancellations almost inevitable, resulting in more pax funds in credit,” aviation consultancy Capa India tweeted on Tuesday. “Passengers that have purchased tickets for the period from 15 April to 3 May will once again only be offered credit for future travel, rather than a (full) refund,” it said.

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