NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered domestic airlines operating flights within and outside India to refund passengers the cost of tickets of flights cancelled between March 25-May 24 without any cancellation charges.
Accepting the proposal of civil aviation ministry and directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) submitted by solicitor general Tushar Mehta, a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R S Reddy and M R Shah said, “Even for international travel, when the tickets have been booked on an Indian carrier and the booking is ex-India, if the tickets have been booked during the lockdown period for travel within the lockdown period, immediate refund shall be made.”
It said the condition of full refund within three weeks would also apply to foreign carriers if the booking was made within India. “In all other cases, the airlines shall make all endeavours to refund the collected amount to the passenger within 15 days from today,” they said.
“If on account of financial distress, any airline is not able to do so, they shall provide a credit shell, equal to the amount of fare collected, in the name of the passenger when the booking is done either directly by the passenger or through travel agent so as to consume the same on or before March 31, 2021,” it said. The credit shell could be utilised to book tickets on any route and could be transferred in the name of another by the original passenger, the bench said and asked the airlines to provide a mechanism for such transfer.
With many travellers booking their tickets through travel agents, the bench said, “In cases where passengers have purchased the ticket through an agent, and a credit shell is issued in the name of passenger, such credit shell is to be utilised only through the agent who has booked the ticket.” If the credit shell is not utilised by March 31, 2021, then the travel agent will refund money against it, the bench said.
“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, in which event the credit shell shall be enhanced by 0.5% of the face value (the amount of fare collected) for every month or part thereof between the date of cancellation and June 30. Thereafter the value of the credit shell shall be enhanced by 0.75% of the face value per month upto March 31, 2021,” it said and asked the DGCA to enforce this strictly.



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