Selling Flight Tickets Without Clarity on Lockdown Unfair: CAPA

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Aviation consultancy CAPA on Thursday said allowing domestic airlines to accept advance bookings from April 15 is “unfair” to consumers since a call on lifting the nationwide lockdown is yet to be taken.

During the lockdown period, only special flights like medical evacuation flights and those carrying cargo, including medical equipment, to and from different parts of the country are approved by aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)

While the govt is yet to make a decision on lifting the lockdown, Indian airlines have started accepting bookings for travel on domestic flights from April 15. Air India has suspended the sale of tickets for domestic and international flights till April 30.

“The decision to permit the opening of advance bookings from April 14 without a decision on lifting of the lockdown and certain structure of the transition period post the lockdown needs to be immediately reviewed as this is unfair to consumers,” Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) said in a statement.

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Citing examples of erstwhile Kingfisher Airlines and now-defunct Jet Airways, CAPA said that the closure of these two carriers has “already resulted in massive losses to passengers as refunds couldn’t be processed leading to crores of losses to passengers”.

Kingfisher Airlines pack up in 2012, while Jet Airways ceased operations in April last year due to a liquidity crunch.

CAPA said that as and when a lockdown is lifted and the structure of the transition period is known, the civil aviation ministry should only allow reopening of the bookings on the sectors which would be operated by Indian airlines during the transition and not the whole network.

The airlines are forcing customers to just accept credit vouchers with their validity, in some cases, as long as one year.

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Giving credit vouchers for all advance bookings before the lockdown was expected and is reasonable, but not for bookings post-April, it noted.

Most airlines, including domestic players, have refused to refund customers whose flights either got cancelled due to the suspension of all commercial passenger flights in the wake of 21-day lockdown, or travel restrictions overseas.

There are eight scheduled carriers in India — IndiGo, SpiceJet, GoAir, AirAsia India, Vistara, Air India, Air India Express and Alliance Air.

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