#Lockdown: Airlines Refuse To Refund Cancelled Tickets In Cash, Offers Rescheduled Tickets; Is This Fair?

#Lockdown: Airlines Refuse To Refund Cancelled Tickets In Cash, Offers Rescheduled Tickets; Is This Fair?
Lockdown: Airlines Refuse To Refund Cancelled Tickets In Cash, Offers Rescheduled Tickets; Is This Fair?

Earlier this month, the airline companies had started taking the bookings from April 15.

The nationwide lockdown has been extended till May 3 leading to the suspension of the commercial passenger services as well.

Read to find out more…

No Refund, Only Rescheduling of Tickets!

During the 21 day lockdown period, all the domestic and international commercial passenger flights were suspended for the time being.

Many airline companies except AirIndia had been taking bookings for the period post  April 14. 

Following Prime Minister Modi’s announcement regarding extension of the lockdown, the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued a notice stating all international as well as domestic flights will remain suspended during the lockdown.

The domestic airlines have again decided not to refund the customers in cash for their cancelled flights but offer them rescheduling of tickets for a later date without any additional fee.

Here is What Vistara, GoAir, IndiGo, SpiceJet AreDoing Post the Extension of Lockdown!

A Vistara spokesperson told PTI, “”Following orders from the Ministry of Civil Aviation issued to all airlines, we have extended the suspension of our operations until May 3, 2020. We are in the process of cancelling the affected bookings and we will offer customers free of charge rescheduling to another date until December 31, 2020.” The airline company has however said that the customer will have to pay the fare difference, if any, at the time of rebooking.

A GoAir spokesperson said that it has already ‘factored in’ these types of scenarios and that the airline will review its earlier scheme of providing rescheduling free of cost at a later date while protecting their existing bookings for one year. The airline on April 13 had announced that it was extending the ‘Protect Your PNR’ scheme till April 30, 2020.

Similarly, IndiGo also announced that all its flights are cancelled till May 3. It also said that it is in the process of cancelling the reservations.It said, “Your ticket amount is protected in the form of a credit shell in the PNR, which can be utilised within one year of the issued date.”

SpiceJet is also taking similar measures by maintaining the amount from the cancelled ticket in a credit shell. It said, “We are cancelling the reservation of those who booked tickets for travel till May 3, 2020. Upon cancellation your entire amount will be maintained in credit shell and the same may be used for fresh bookings and travel till February 28, 2021, for the same passenger.”

CAPA Says Sale of Tickets Without a Clarity on Lockdown ‘Unfair to the Consumers’! 

Last week, the Aviation consultancy Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) had termed the sale of tickets without a clarity on lockdown as ‘unfair to consumers’.

CAPA said in a statement, “The decision to allow opening of advance bookings from April 14 without a decision on lifting of the lockdown and likely structure of the transition period post the lockdown needs to be immediately reviewed as this is unfair to consumers,”    

As per its March 18 report, CAPA had stated that amid COVID-19 and in the absence of government support ‘several Indian airlines may shut down operations by May or June due to a lack of cash.’

CAPA said referring to the examples of Kingfisher Airlines and now-obsolete Jet Airways, that the closure of these two carriers has ‘already resulted in massive losses to passengers as refunds couldn’t be processed resulting in crores of losses to passengers’. Also the  then customers of the erstwhile Kingfisher Airlines and Jet Airways could not recover their money which the two airlines had amassed on account of advance bookings only after going bankrupt.

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