DGCA asks airlines to pay ₹10L fine if boarding is denied on valid ticket

DGCA on Tuesday imposed ₹10L fine on Air India for denying boarding to passengers without compensation

It has been alleged that Indian carriers have been overbooking their flights as COVID-19 cases are receding, and when the number of passengers exceed the number of seats in the aircraft, the airlines do not take them on board. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Tuesday (June 14) said that airlines will have to shell out a compensation of up to ₹10,000 to passengers who are denied boarding despite holding a valid ticket if the airline is unable to arrange an alternate flight for the passenger within an hour.

The DGCA’s directive came while imposing a fine of ₹10 lakh on Air India for denying boarding to passengers holding valid tickets and thereafter not providing mandatory compensation to them.

“After that a series of checks were carried out by DGCA and during our surveillance at Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Delhi, there were specific instances, in the case of Air India – where the regulation (regarding compensation to passengers) is not being followed and therefore, a show cause notice was issued to the airline and also a personal hearing was afforded,” the DGCA said in a statement.

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According to the regulator, Air India may not have a policy in this regard and does not pay compensation to the passengers. “To say the least, it is a matter of serious concern and unacceptable. In the specific cases detailed in the show cause notice, after going through AI submissions, as part of enforcement action, the competent authority has levied a penalty of ₹10 lakh,” it noted.

“In addition, the Airline has been advised to immediately put the systems in place to resolve the issue – failing which further action shall be taken by DGCA,” it added.

If a passenger is denied boarding despite having a valid ticket and has reported at the airport on time, certain regulations have to be followed by the airline concerned, as per the DGCA. In case the airline concerned is able to arrange an alternative flight for the affected passenger within an hour, no compensation is to be paid, the DGCA regulations state. However, if the airline is able to provide the alternative arrangement within next 24 hours, a compensation of up to ₹10,000 is prescribed in the regulations.

For anything beyond 24 hours, a compensation up to ₹20,000 has to be paid, as per the DGCA regulations.

“Our stipulations on the subject are in sync with US aviation regulator FAA and European aviation regulator EASA and similar regulations is followed globally to accord appropriate respect to passenger rights,” the DGCA said on Tuesday.

The aviation authority had recently issued strict instructions to all domestic airlines to abide by the said regulation in letter and spirit. The DGCA had last month said that the airlines are indulging in “unfair practice” of denying boarding to passengers even when they report for their flights at the airport on time.

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The aviation regulator in an e-mail on May 2 had asked all Indian carriers to give compensation and facilities to passengers affected by such denial of boarding, failing which it would impose financial penalties on them. Sources alleged that Indian carriers have been overbooking their flights as COVID-19 cases are receding, and when the number of passengers exceed the number of seats in the aircraft, the airlines do not take them on board.

(With inputs from agencies)

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