The statutory body for India’s aviation sector the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has published a comprehensive guideline for issuing refunds for the air tickets cancelled between March 25 to May 24. No domestic passenger flights operated in the country during this period due to COVID-19 pandemic and the resulted lockdown. The guidelines have come after six days of recent Supreme Court judgement asking airlines to offer a full refund to the passengers. The Court issued a verdict asking airlines to refund or form credit shells for the bookings and cancellations during the other period around the lockdown as well.
DGCA refund guidelines for the tickets booked in lockdown
As per the new guideline, DGCA has categorized passengers into three main categories —
- Travellers who booked tickets between March 25 and May 24 for travelling within the same period,
- Passengers who booked tickets before March 25 for travel within March 25 and May 24,
- Passengers who booked the tickets for anytime post-May 24.
The passengers in ‘category I’ are eligible for a full refund.
The regulator has asked airlines to make “all endeavours” to refund money to category two people within 15 days. If any airline claims to be under financial distress and expressed its ineligibility to offer a refund, DGCA has asked to provide a credit shell to the passenger equating to the amount of ticket fare collected. The passengers can use such credit shell for travel to any destination before March 31, 2021.
The third people category can also get a refund, in accordance with the existing DGCA rules.
The airlines shall make a full refund even for international journeys on an Indian or foreign carrier if the tickets have been booked during the lockdown period for travel within the same period. The airline shall issue such refunds within a period of three weeks.
If the tickets are booked via a travel agent, the amount will be sent to the agent. The agent shall refund the same to the passenger.
The pandemic has left the Indian aviation industry in a profound financial instability. The flights resumed operations only after May 24 post lockdown, however, they are permitted to operate only with 60% capacity.
The international flight operations continue to remain cancelled, except for those operating under Vande Bharat Mission. There are also air bubble arrangements formed with various countries since July 2020.