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Kolkata passengers left in the lurch as Go First cancels flights 

The Wadia group-owned budget carrier has announced temporary suspension of flights on May 3, 4 and 5

Sanjay Mandal | Published 04.05.23, 05:35 AM

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Cancellation of Go First airline’s flights on May 3, 4 and 5 and the airline’s decision not to sell tickets till May 15 have left passengers and travel agents in the lurch.

The Wadia group-owned budget carrier has announced temporary suspension of flights on May 3, 4 and 5 and also filed an application for voluntary insolvency resolution proceedings before the National Company Law Tribunal, Delhi.

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On Wednesday, the airline said it is not selling tickets for its flights till May 15.

Calls and a text message from The Telegraph to a Go First spokesperson did not elicit any response. The airline had said on Tuesday that it would refund money to those who had booked tickets on the cancelled flights.

Go First once used to operate nine flights out of Kolkata daily. Now, it has only two — to Delhi and Port Blair — said an airport official.

The official said many Go First passengers called the airport to find out the status of their flights on other dates. Many passengers were calling travel agents and asking whether they should cancel their tickets.

Some travel agents are allegedly reluctant to cancel and refund the money because they are not sure whether the airline would reimburse them.

Go First passengers, as well as travel agents who have sold tickets of the airline, are now worried about travel plans going haywire, not getting refunds and whether they need to book tickets with other airlines at a much higher rate.

Travel agents said the cancellations are bringing back memories of Jet Airways when it had stopped operations. Many agents had then complained that the airline was not reimbursing them for the cancelled tickets.

Kolkata businessman Firoz Ahmed had booked six tickets on a Go First flight for a family trip to the Andamans.

“I have booked tickets to Port Blair on May 8 and return tickets on May 15. Now, I am hearing that the airline is not selling tickets till May 15 and my travel agent has said flights for this period could be cancelled,” said Ahmed.

He has spent Rs 1.2 lakh on the tickets, which were booked more than a month back.

“The travel agent is refusing to book tickets on other flights unless I pay again. He said if the Go Air flights are cancelled, he will refund the money only after the airline reimburses him. I have no idea when I will get my money back if the flights are cancelled,” Ahmed said.

“I have to spend a huge amount if I decide to fly any other airline because the journey date is only a few days away. Since we have already booked hotel rooms, it will be a big loss if we cancel the trip.”

Lake Town resident Kanchan Chowdhury has booked tickets for five on a Go First flight from Leh to Delhi on June 9. He has spent Rs 55,000 on the tickets, which were booked more than two months back.

“I am going on a vacation with my family. There will be elderly people and children. I am worried that we will be stranded in Leh if the flight is cancelled,” said Chowdhury, a businessman.

“I have asked my travel agent to try and cancel the tickets and rebook us with another airline. He asked me to wait till more clarity emerges.”

Businessman Sukhendra Nath Das and wife Rita, a school teacher, residents of Sinthee on the city’s northern fringes, are booked on a Go First flight from Leh to Delhi on May 24. They have paid Rs 14,500 for the tickets.

“We are very worried. We called our travel agent to know what should be done. He asked us to wait as there is no clarity yet,” said Rita.

Travel agents said they had booked Go First because the fares were cheaper.

“We had bulk bookings for the summer vacation on Go First because the fares were cheaper. Today, we were flooded with phone calls from passengers seeking alternative arrangements as they don’t want to fly Go First. But we are not clear about the situation because there is no formal communication yet from Go First about the cancellation procedures,” said Raktim Roy, managing director of Dolphin Travels.

Amin Asghar, director, A and A Travel Zone, said he had more than Rs 2 lakh in the Go First wallet, which he got as refund for cancelled flights earlier.

“The airline used to operate the only direct flight to Phuket in Thailand from Kolkata. We used to book tickets in bulk. However, there were frequent cancellations sometime back and finally, the airline stopped the flight,” said Asghar.

“They would return the fare in the wallet which I spent on booking Go First tickets in other sectors. Initially, I had more than Rs 8 lakh in the wallet. After booking tickets in other sectors, I still have Rs 2 lakh left in the wallet. But the airline has not made any refund in cash,” he said.

“Now, I am facing similar problems in all other sectors,” said Asghar.

Manav Soni, chairman, Travel Agents Association of India, eastern region, said: “We are hopeful the crisis will be over and it will not be like Jet Airways. Many agents are yet to get full refunds from Jet.”

Last updated on 04.05.23, 09:26 AM
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