The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to Ministry of Civil Aviation on plea seeking full refund against the tickets booked for travel during the covid-19 lockdown. The plea accused airlines of violating aviation ministry’s order.
The civil aviation ministry on 16 April issued a memorandum that airlines will have to refund full amount, without imposing cancellation charges, to those who booked tickets during the first phase of lockdown from 25 March to 14 April for travel between 25 March and 3 May.
The ministry had also asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to ensure that airlines comply with its directive.
A three-judge apex court bench headed by Justice NV Ramana heard the petition through video conferencing and observed that it was “arbitrary” that the refund was not issued against the tickets booked for travel during the lockdown period.
Justice SK Kaul observed, “The relief should be entitled to everyone whose flight was cancelled because of lockdown extension, irrespective of the period of booking. The bench has sought a response from the Civil Aviation Ministry and the DGCA.
The petition filed by NGO Pravasi Legal Cell urged the top court that non-refund of the amount of the tickets by airlines was illegal and violative of the Civil Aviation Requirement issued by the DGCA.
The petitioner argued that airlines, instead of providing full refund of the amount collected for cancelled tickets, are providing a credit shell, valid up to one year.
Airlines during the first week of April resumed bookings for travel after 14 April anticipating that the nationwide lockdown imposed on 24 March will not get extended.
However, contrary to their expectations, the lockdown was extended and airlines deferred the resumption of flights to 4 May. Most airlines have also waived off rescheduling fees for tickets booked during the lockdown period and asked passengers to reschedule their travel plans to a later date.
(Source: Live Mint)
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