Refund airfares of flights booked amid Covid-19 lockdown: Indian Supreme Court – NewsOctober 1, 2020
Airlines have been given an option to create a credit shell in the name of the passenger which can be availed for travel on any route before March 31, 2021.
Airlines will have to refund money collected from tickets that were cancelled without levying cancellation charges following the coronavirus-induced lockdown, the Supreme Court of India ruled on Thursday. The judgement for refunds is applicable to both domestic and international tickets booked during this period.
The three-judge bench, headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan, passed the order after considering recommendations from the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to refund ticket fares. The apex court approved a credit shell scheme which will be valid until March 31. Khaleej Times has seen a copy of the ruling.
Refund must be given by March 31, 2021
The airlines have been given time to refund the amount to the passengers by March 31 next year, the judgement said. However, bookings made during lockdown for travelling during lockdown need to be refunded immediately “since airlines were not supposed to book such tickets”, the court said.
The Supreme Court said passengers who have booked tickets through travel agents can collect the refund amount once the money is credited back into the agent’s account.
It added, “If a passenger has booked a ticket during the first lockdown (from March 25 to April 14) and the airline has received payment for booking of the air ticket during the first lockdown period for travel during the same period, for both domestic and international air travel and refund is sought by the passenger against that booking is cancelled, the airline shall refund the full amount collected without levy of cancellation charges. The refund shall be made within a period of three weeks from the date of request of cancellation.”
“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,” the court ruled.
Ruling for international travellers
“Even for international travel, when the tickets have been booked on an Indian carrier during the lockdown period for travel within the lockdown period, an immediate refund shall be made,” the order said.
“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, a 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, the airline shall refund the collected amount to the passenger within a period of three weeks,” it added.
The court has asked the Ministry of Civil Aviation to issue a compliance notification in the matter.
The credit shell issued in the name of the passenger can be utilised up to March 31, 2021, the bench said, adding that the concerned airline shall honour such a transfer by devising a mechanism to facilitate such a transfer.