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SC Issues Notice To Centre & DGCA Over PIL Filed For Full Refund Of Airline Flight Tickets

SC issued a notice in a plea seeking orders to the Centre & DGCA for appropriate directions to Airlines for a full refund of tickets booked amid lockdown

In a significant development, the Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice in a plea seeking orders to the Central Government and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for issuance of appropriate directions to Airlines for a full refund of tickets booked for travel during the lockdown on account of their cancellation. Earlier on Monday, a petition seeking directions for the complete refund of flight tickets cancelled due to the COVID-19 lockdown was filed in the Supreme Court.

The PIL, filed by rights organisation Pravasi Legal Cell stated that the airlines are providing a credit shell to passengers instead of providing full refunds, thus violating the Civil Aviation requirement issued by the DGCA. The petition was moved in the SC against the "arbitrary action” of the domestic and international flights of not refunding the full amount for tickets that were cancelled in the wake of lockdown restrictions.

Several passengers have complained on social media against Indian airlines for giving refunds for flights cancelled due to the coronavirus lockdown and instead issuing credit vouchers for future travel.

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What is the DGCA rule in this regard?

As per the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) rule, "the option of holding the refund amount in credit shell by the airlines shall be the prerogative of the passenger and not a default practice of the airline.

Further, in case of credit card payments, the refund shall be made by the airlines within 07 days of the cancellation to the account of the credit-card holders, while in case of a cash transaction the refund shall be "made immediately" by the airline office from where the ticket was purchased.”

The DGCA has set a limit of 30 working days for airlines to complete the refund for flight tickets booked through travel agents/portals.

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Centre orders airlines to refund the full amount to passengers

On Thursday, the Civil Aviation Ministry ordered that if a passenger has booked tickets during the first phase of lockdown for travel up to May 3, and if the airline has received the payment during the first phase of lockdown itself, the passenger can ask the airline to issue a full refund. The refund must be given within three weeks from the date of the request for cancellation, the ministry said

The PIL filed on Monday, sought a direction to the airline operators to admit that their action of not refunding the full was arbitrary and in violation of the Civil Aviation Requirement issued by the DGCA. It also sought directions to the Indian airlines to refund the full amount collected for all the flight tickets booked during the COVID lockdown.

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