New Delhi: In a major relief to a huge number of air travellers, the Supreme Court on Thursday affirmed the Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) proposition on air tickets refund and credit shell on flights booked before and throughout lockdown.
A bench directed by Justice Ashok Bhushan and including Justices R. Subhash Reddy and M.R. Shah said the court can’t dismiss the current circumstance prevailing in the nation and over the globe in the background of COVID-19 pandemic, and it can’t be contested that the civil aviation division, which is one of the significant areas, is truly affected considering the ban forced for working flights.
The top court stated: If a passenger has booked a ticket during the lockdown period (from March 25 to May 24) for travel during lockdown period and the airline has received payment for booking of air ticket for travel during the same period, for both domestic and international Air Tickets and the refund is sought by the passenger against that booking being cancelled, the airline shall refund the full amount collected without any cancellation charges. The refund shall be made within a period of three weeks from the date of cancellation.
The decision has arrived on an appeal registered by NGO Pravasi Legal Cell through advocate Jose Abraham.
The bench included that if the tickets have been reserved during the lockdown time frame through a travel agent for a travel inside the lockdown time frame, in all such cases full discount will be given by the airlines right away.
The top court stated: Passengers who booked tickets at any period of time but for travel, after 24th May 2020 – refund of fares to the passengers covered under this category shall be governed by the provisions of Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR).
The bench announced that the airlines will make all undertakings to refund the gathered amount to the traveller inside 15 days from today.
The top court stated: If on account of financial distress, any airline/airlines are not able to do so, they shall provide credit shell, equal to the amount of fare collected, in the name of the passenger when the booking is done either directly by the passenger or through a travel agent so as to consume the same on or before March 31, 2021.
The bench saw that the air traveller traffic has descended vigorously and which is slowly being re-established, and right now any strict implementation activity of the CARs would additionally limit/lessen their operations and such implementation activity may additionally imperil the potential outcomes of the generation of money via airlines which can additionally influence/postpone the refund cycle.
The bench announced the credit shell issued for the sake of the traveller will be transferable which can be used up to March 31, 2021.
The court remarked: It is also made clear that such credit shell can be utilized by the concerned agent through whom the ticket is booked, for third party use.