SC orders full refund on air tickets booked during lockdown

The apex court approved DGCA’s ‘credit shell’ scheme, by which the passengers need to be returned the ticket fares by March 2021

A Union Home Ministry order said the government aims to ease visa and travel restrictions for more categories of foreign and Indian nationals in the days to come.

The Supreme Court on Thursday (October 1) ordered airline companies to refund passengers who booked flight tickets during the lockdown. Besides, the companies cannot charge any cancellation fee.

The SC accepted Director General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) recommendations to refund ticket fares and also approved a credit shell scheme which will be valid till March 31, 2021. The airlines can refund the amount to the passengers by March 31 next year, the order said.

The judgment is valid for domestic as well as international bookings made during the period.

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The SC was hearing a petition filed by Pravasi Legal Cell and Air Passengers Association who demanded refund for tickets booked prior to the lockdown.

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah stated that passengers who purchased tickets through travel agents can collect the refund amount from them once the money is credited back to their account.

While the airline companies can settle the refund claims till March 31, 2021, the court said that bookings made during lockdown for travelling during lockdown needs to be refunded immediately “as the airlines were not supposed to book such tickets”.

The refund shall be made within a period of three weeks from the date of cancellation, the order said. “Even for international travel, when the tickets have been booked on an Indian carrier and the booking is ex-India, if the tickets have been booked during the lockdown period for travel within the lockdown period, immediate refund shall be made,” the order added.

“For those who made bookings prior to lockdown for a period up till May 24, the refund would be governed by the credit shell scheme and the incentives thereunder,” the court ruled.

Refund amount for tickets purchased for travelling on dates after May 24 would be governed by the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR).

Also read: SC gives Centre one more week to submit loan moratorium plan

“In all cases where credit shell is issued there shall be an incentive to 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 per cent of the face value 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 per cent of the face value per month up to March 31, 2021,” it said.

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