Airlines seem to have ignored an advisory issued by the ministry of civil aviation urging them to issue refunds for tickets on flights cancelled during the shutdown. Its been three days since the advisory was issued following several complaints from passengers that all domestic airlines are refusing refunds and have put the money into a credit shell for people to reclaim within a year.
Though the shutdown from March 25 to April 14 was sudden, the airlines continued to book tickets for travel from April 15 without instructions from the DGCA or ministry that flights can be resumed. But, the shutdown was extended and these tickets too have now been converted into credit shell.
Many passengers have now taken to Twitter asking airlines for refunds citing the ministry’s guidelines. In response, airlines have said they are still “reviewing” the directives by DGCA and has not clarified whether money will be returned.
In some cases, the airlines are also refusing refunds for tickets saying that the tickets were booked before March 25. For example, a passenger has tweeted that “My flight cancelled due to Covid-19 which was scheduled on April 22 and 27. As per guidelines from DGCA, I want full refund in bank account. But IndiGo has responded saying “As your reservation was made before March 25, a credit shell has been made for the complete amount valid for a year and can be utilised by the same passengers.”
Similar responses which do not commit refunds are given by SpiceJet, GoAir Vistara and Air India.
Air Passengers Association of India (APAI) national president D Sudhakara Reddy said, “The ministry and the DGCA should have issued a strong order telling airlines to refund tickets. This is a guideline. That is a problem. Airlines have taken law into their hands and are holding back people’s money.”
Airlines continued to accepting booking for flights after April 15 and also for flights after May 4 though the ministry has not made it clear that flights will resume.
Minister of civil aviation Hardeep Singh Puri has also tweeted that airlines did not “heed advisory opened bookings & started collecting money from flyers, a directive was issued to them on 19th April restraining them from doing so.” Following this some of the airlines have not stopped taking bookings but continue to refuse refunds.
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