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New Delhi, April 16, 2020
The Ministry of Civil Aviation today told airlines that they must make a refund of the full amount collected for bookings made for travel during the lockdown period, when flights were banned, if the passenger seeks his money back.
The Government had imposed a 21-day nationwide lockdown from March 25 to April 14 to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and now has extended it by another 19 days till May 3.
Following the imposition of the lockdown, the Government had also imposed a ban on operation of all domestic and international flights for this period. In fact, in the case of international flights, a week-long ban had been imposed from March 22 and later, as part of the lockdown, it got extended.
"If a passenger has booked a ticket during the first lockdown period (from 25th of March to 14th of April, 2020) and the airline has received payment for booking of the air ticket during the first lockdown period for travel during the same period, for both domestic and international air travel, and refund is sought by the passenger against that booking being cancelled, the airline shall refund the full amount collected without levy of cancellation charge. The refund shall be made within a period of three weeks from the date of request of cancellation," an office memorandum from the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) said.
"If a passenger has booked a ticket during the first lockdown period and the airline has received the payment for booking of air ticket during the first lockdown period (from 25th of March to 14th April, 2020) for travel during the second lockdown period (from 15th of April to 3rd of May, 2020_ for both domestic and international air travel and the passenger seeks refund on cancellation of the ticket, the airline shall refund the full amount collected without levy of cancellation charge. The refund shall be made within a period of three weeks from the date of request of cancellation," it said.
"Directorate General of Civil Aviation is requested to monitor the compliance of the advisories," it added.
The airlines had earlier said that, after cancellation of tickets, the ticket amount would be held in the form of a credit shell in the PNR. They said the credit can be used within one year from the issued date for the same passenger(s). While crediting the amount to the credit shell, the airlines were deducting a convenience fee, a transactional charge which is non-refundable.
The Ministry acknowledged the unusual situation that has arisen due to the lockdown and its consequential effect on air passengers and airlines. It said it had taken the decision on the refunds after a detailed examination of the grievances received form various quarters.
The decision is likely to severely affect some of the airlines which are strapped for cash.