Airlines must stop taking bookings beyond May 3 – CAPA

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Airlines must be banned from the unfair practice of taking bookings beyond May 3 as there is still no clarity about flights resumption post lockdown, aviation consultancy firm CAPA has said.

“Railway Ministry has ruled there will be no advance bookings on trains until further notice. MoCA (Ministry of Civil Aviation) should similarly instruct airlines to halt unfair practice of taking advance bookings until resumption is certain and an interim transition schedule has been established,” CAPA India posted on Twitter.

On April 14, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an extension of countrywide lockdown till May 3 and this led to automatic cancellation of nearly 39 lakh rail tickets and all flights between April 15 and May 3.

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While Railways is providing a refund of full booking fare to the passengers for these cancellations, airlines are not providing refunds but a credit shell which the customer can use at a later date.

It is clear that airlines are running out of cash amid a total shutdown of the industry and are relying on the customers’ money to ride through the crisis but since there is no clarity on flights resumption post lockdown, it is an unfair deal for the passengers.

“This continues to be unfair on consumers who have purchased a service that the airlines cannot deliver, albeit through no fault of their own. Some pax may not have a need to travel in future during the validity of the credit and will lose their money,” CAPA said.

It is important to note that Railways have stopped taking bookings until further notice but airlines continue to take bookings beyond May 3 and it is clear that if those bookings were to get cancelled, passengers will most likely get a credit shell and not refund.

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In fact, IndiGo announced on April 14 that it will resume domestic operations with a curtailed capacity from May 4. However, when CNBC-TV18 asked a senior government official on flights resumption, it was confirmed that there is still no clarity on which all flights will resume.

“Some carriers have opened the full schedule for sale from May 4. Even if flights resume from that date, which is not certain, it is highly unlikely that full operations will resume from day 1. Further flight cancellations almost inevitable, resulting in more pax funds in credit,” CAPA added.

(Source: CNBC)

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