The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has informed the Supreme Court that tickets booked by passengers between March 25 to May 3 for domestic and international air travel will be fully refunded within 15 days, Bar and Bench reported on Sunday.
The aviation authority made the proposal in an affidavit filed due to a June 13 order of the top court that had asked private airlines along with the Ministry of Civil Aviation to find a way to refund passengers, whose flights were unexpectedly canceled during the countrywide lockdown imposed to rein in the pandemic.
It said the decision to fully refund passengers, who booked their tickets directly, during the lockdown, was taken after a meeting between the DGCA and all the stakeholders in July.
The scheme formulated by the Centre further stated that if any airline is not in a financial position to pay immediately, the fare amount shall be kept in a credit shell. This can be availed by the passenger for travel by the same airline on any route before March 31, 2021.
The affidavit added that the credit shell shall be transferable. “The passenger can transfer the credit shell to any person, and the airlines shall honor such a transfer,” it said. “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.”
This option, however, will not be available to foreign carriers, who must refund all passengers within 15 days, according to the Hindustan Times.
The Centre has also informed the Supreme Court that if the tickets have been booked during the lockdown period for travel within the same period, the airlines will refund the full amount to passengers immediately.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan will consider the Centre’s affidavit when it takes up the petitions on September 9.
India instituted a lockdown in March, soon after the first coronavirus cases began to emerge in the country. Both domestic and international flights were grounded. The Centre had allowed domestic flight services to resume on May 25 but at only one-third capacity. The cap was later increased to 45% and then to 60%. However, the suspension of international flights to and from the country has been extended till September 30.
India’s coronavirus tally on Sunday reached 41,13,811, after a record rise in cases of 90,632 cases in 24 hours. The toll rose by 1,065 to 70,626. India now has 8,62,320 active cases, while 31,80,865 people have recovered, pushing the recovery rate to 77.23%.