Plea in SC seeks refund on air tickets cancelled during lockdown

New Delhi: A plea has been moved in the Supreme Court seeking directions to Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Centre to ask airlines, domestic and international, to refund full amount on air tickets which were cancelled due to the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Pravasi Legal Cell moves plea

The plea has been moved by Pravasi Legal Cell through advocate Jose Abraham. The plea urged the top court to declare non-refund of the amount of the tickets by airlines as illegal and violative of the Civil Aviation Requirement issued by the DGCA. The petitioner contended that airlines, instead of providing full refund of the amount collected for cancelled tickets, are providing a credit shell, valid up to one year.

The plea cited the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MCA) April 16 office memorandum, which directed all airline operators to refund the full amount collected for all tickets booked during the first phase of the lockdown period, from March 25 to April 14, for domestic and international air travel.

Cancellation charges

The MCA memorandum said if a passenger seeks refund during the first lockdown phase for travel during the second lockdown period (from April 15 to May 3), still the airline has to refund the full amount without levying any cancellation charges.

The plea contended that the office memorandum leaves out the vast majority of passengers who had booked tickets before the flights operations were banned, and thus indirectly approves the practice of the airlines providing credit shell for bookings affected before the lockdown, though the same clearly violates the refund rules of the DGCA.

However, the petitioner said the government directive only orders the airlines to refund those tickets which were booked during the lockdown period and leaves out passengers who booked tickets before the restrictions were placed.