The Centre has claimed that the non-refund of air tickets booked during the lockdown and the formation by airlines, of an unintended credit shell breaches the Civil Aviation Requirements and provisions of the Aircraft Rules of 1937.
This was informed in reply to a plea pointing out that flyers did not wish to take advantage of the Credit Shell provided by airlines instead of being refunded, and recommended that flyers be given a full reimbursement
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has told the Supreme Court that the flyers who booked tickets in domestic and international airlines for air travel between March 25 and May 3, 2020, i.e. within the first two phases of the COVID-19 lockout, will be entirely reimbursed.
This was notified after the apex court order released on June 13 that had directed private airlines along with the Civil Aviation Ministry to figure out a way to reimburse the travel costs of flyers whose flights were cancelled during the lockdown.
After Pravasi Legal Cell, through Advocate Jose Abraham, submitted a petition to the Supreme Court alleging that passengers did not wish to take advantage of the Credit Shell provided by airlines within the stated time and that full refund should be given for air travel cancelled due to the lockdown, the Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul and MR Shah had said “The credit facility that you grant must be for at least two years and passengers should be allowed to avail it across all sectors.”
The DGCA in an affidavit informed that meetings were held with all the stakeholders in July and decided that tickets booked directly by flyer during Lockdown 1 and 2 will be fully refunded.
The affidavit further declares that the airlines will make every effort to reimburse the fare within 15 days for all other cases.
"If on account of financial distress, if the airlines are not able to do so they shall provide a credit shell equal to the amount of fare collected. This credit shell shall be issued in the name of the passenger who has booked the ticket," reads the affidavit.
The affidavit also states that the credit shell shall be transferable.
"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 flyer is allowed to use the credit shell on any route of his choice until March 31, 2021. If the passenger is more interested in buying a value ticket than the credit shell can be topped up using cash.
The Centre also notified the Supreme Court that if the tickets were booked for travel within the lockdown period, the airlines will immediately give complete refund. The agent shall pass this amount on to the travellers immediately.
The Centre has made aware that similar conditions of reimbursement apply for international travel via domestic and foreign carriers.