The Supreme Court has approved the aviation regulator’s proposal to refund flight tickets booked during the lockdown when air travel was barred to curb the spreading of the coronavirus. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation proposed:
Immediate refunds for tickets booked during the lockdown for travel during that period as airlines were not supposed to book such tickets. For other cases, the top court has directed for refunds within 15 days from Oct. 1.
- If for reasons such as financial stress the airline is not able to issue immediate refunds then it has to do so through a credit shell, which can be utilised by passengers for future ticket bookings.
- In case a passenger does not utilise the credit shell amount by the DGCA until March 31, 2021, then the airline has to refund the amount in cash to the customer.
- Refunds will only be applicable for flights that originate in India.
The Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan directed the DGCA to ensure implementation of the refund process. It even sought clarifications on the refund process for those passengers who had booked their tickets through travel agents. The court in its judgment also clarified that for tickets booked through travel agents, credit shells can only be utilised only through such agents. The top court was hearing a batch of petitions seeking a full refund of the tickets booked during the lockdown. The case first came up for hearing in April when the court agreed to hear the pleas and issued a notice to the government and the DGCA seeking its response to the petitioners’ contention.