The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) informed the Supreme Court on Sunday that passengers who had booked tickets in domestic and international carriers for air travel between March 25 and May 3, 2020, which was during the first two phases of the nationwide lockdown in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, will be "fully refunded".
"Non-refund of air tickets booked during lockdown and creation of involuntary credit shell by airlines is a violation of Civil Aviation Requirements and provisions of the Aircraft Rules of 1937," the DGCA told the apex court, according to reports.
India had imposed the first phase of lockdown from March 25 to April 14 to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The second phase of lockdown was extended from April 15 to May 3. All domestic and international commercial passenger flights had been suspended during the period.
The DGCA informed the top court that for all other cases, the airlines shall make all endeavours to refund the collected amount to the passenger within 15 days."The companies have agreed to a "full refund". However, in case of financial distress for airlines, a credit will be given to passengers who could use it for air travel till 31 March 2021 on any route of their choice." reported India Today.
On June 12, the top court, while hearing a PIL filed by NGO 'Pravasi Legal Cell', had asked the Centre, the DGCA and the airlines to discuss and work out modalities for a full refund of tickets for domestic and international flights which were cancelled following the COVID-19 lockdown.
The aviation regulator in its affidavit said that if airlines are not able to refund the amount on account of financial distress, they shall provide a credit shell equal to the amount of fare collected and this shall be issued in the name of the passenger who has booked the ticket for domestic travel directly or through an agent including online platforms.
The DGCA 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 DGCA added in its affidavit
The DGCA said that after various rounds of deliberations between the stakeholders including the airlines, they have arrived at a proposed workable solution keeping in view the interests of both passengers as well as companies.