Full refund for airline tickets
The civil aviation ministry on Thursday directed the full refund of tickets for both domestic and international flights booked between March 25 and April 14 for travel between April 15 and May 3, without the levy of any cancellation fee within three weeks of the date of request.
However, it left many questions unanswered, including the refund of tickets booked prior to the announcement of lockdown for travel before May 3.
Airlines were not issuing full refunds to passengers who booked flights for travel in the lockdown period. Passengers were asked to travel anytime within up to a year. Those seeking refunds were made to suffer big cancellation charges.
Following a massive public outcry, the aviation ministry issued an order on Thursday. However, this has left out a vast majority of affected passengers, who had booked tickets prior to the lockdown.
As per the advisory issued by the ministry of civil aviation, airlines have to refund the full amount collected without the levy of cancellation charge.
“If a passenger has booked a ticket during the first lockdown period (from March 25 to April 14, 2020) and the airline has received payment … for travel during the same period, for both domestic and international air travel, and refund is sought by the passenger against that booking being cancelled, the airline shall refund the full amount collected without levy of cancellation charge. The refund shall be made within a period of three weeks from the date of request of cancellation,” the order by ministry joint secretary Usha Padhee said.
When Kingfisher Airlines and Jet Airways shut down their operations in India, it resulted in massive losses to the passengers as refunds could not be processed. Both the airlines were taking advance bookings despite their precarious financial condition.
Earlier this month, the US government had also directed its airlines to issue refunds to passengers for ticket cancellations amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As domestic and international travel have been suspended in India during the lockdown period, the revenues of Indian airlines have decreased drastically.
Airlines in the country fear that if they have to issue full refunds to all passengers, it will significantly deplete their cash reserves.
Therefore, none of the airlines in India are issuing full refunds. Instead, they are issuing credit vouchers of the same price that can be used by the passengers for booking over the next one year.