Supreme Court, on Thursday, said that Airlines will have to refund full money collected from tickets that were cancelled because of the coronavirus lockdown and that too without any cancellation charge.
The order was passed after Director-General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) recommendation to refund ticket fares and also approved a credit shell scheme which will be valid till March 31.
The Bench was headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan and backed by three other judges.
The judgment applies to bookings made during the period for both domestic and international tickets.
Those who bought tickets through travel agents will be able to collect the refund amount from them once the money is back in their account, the court said.
The airlines had been given time to reimburse the passengers by March 31 of next year. However, bookings during the blockage for travel during the blockage must be refunded immediately, “as the airlines were not supposed to book such tickets,” the court said.
“If a passenger booked a ticket during the lockdown period (from March 25 to May 24) for travel during lockdown period and the airline has received payment for booking of air ticket 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 any cancellation charges. The refund shall be made within a period of three weeks from the date of cancellation”, the order said.
“On such refund, the amount shall be passed on immediately by the agent to the passengers,” it said.
It also said that For those who made bookings prior to lockdown for a period up till May 24, the refund would be governed by the credit shell scheme and the incentives thereunder.
“If the tickets are booked for international travel on a foreign carrier and the booking is ex-India during the lockdown period for travel within the lockdown period, full refund shall be given by the airlines and said amount shall be passed on immediately by the agent to the passengers, wherever such tickets are booked through agents. In all other cases airline shall refund the collected amount to the passenger within a period of three weeks,” it added.
The court asked the Ministry of Civil Aviation to issue a declaration of conformity in this regard.
The credit shell issued on behalf of the passenger can be used until March 31, 2021, the bank said, adding that the and the affected airline will honor such a transfer by developing a mechanism to facilitate such a transfer.
“In all cases where credit shell is issued there shall be an incentive to compensate the passenger from the date of cancellation upto June 30, 2020, in which event the credit shell shall be enhanced by 0.5 per cent of the face value for every month or part thereof between the date of cancellation and June 30, 2020. Thereafter the value of the credit shell shall be enhanced by 0.75 per cent of the face value per month upto March 31, 2021,” it said.