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Covid-19: SC reserves order on pleas seeking refund for cancelled flights’ airfare

The Supreme Court on Friday reserved its order on a batch of pleas seeking a refund of airfare to passengers whose flights were cancelled due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
A bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan, reserved the order after all parties concluded their arguments in the case.
Earlier, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had through an affidavit told the court that tickets booked by passengers in domestic and international carriers for air travel during the first two phases of lockdown — between March 25 to May 3, 2020 — will be “fully refunded”.
“If the tickets have been booked during the first lockdown period, March 25, 2020, to April 14, 2020, for the journeys to be undertaken in both first and second lockdown period i.e. from March 25, 2020, to May 3, 2020, in all such cases, a full refund shall be given by the airlines immediately (this is being mandated vide MoCA’s OM dated April 16, 2020, as the airlines were not supposed to book such tickets),” the affidavit filed by DGCA before the top court had said.
“For all other cases, the airlines shall make all endeavours to refund the collected amount to the passenger within 15 days,” it had added.

The affidavit was filed in a batch of pleas seeking a refund of air airfare to passengers whose flights were cancelled during the lockdown. The top court had earlier asked private airlines along with the Ministry of Civil Aviation to find a way out to refund the airfare of passengers.
The DGCA had also said that the “credit shell shall be transferable”, adding that the passenger can transfer the credit shell to any person, and the airlines shall honour such a transfer.
“The airlines shall devise a mechanism to facilitate such a transfer. By the end of March 2021, the Airlines shall refund cash to the holder of the credit shell,” the affidavit further added.
The Centre has also apprised the court that if the tickets have been booked through a travel agent during the lockdown period for travel within the lockdown period, a full refund shall be given by the airlines immediately. Similar refund conditions apply for international travel via domestic and foreign carriers, it added.
The DGCA had also stated in the affidavit that the policy of the Central Government is that every individual passenger has a right to seek a refund of those tickets, the flight for which was cancelled without any fault of his/her.
It is stated that non-refund of such fares amount to the violation of provisions of the CAR (Civil Aviation Requirements) and CAR is necessary to protect the interest of air passengers.



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