Airlines will have to provide full refund to passengers who have booked air tickets during March 25 and April 14 for travel between April 15 and May 3, the civil aviation ministry has said.
Airlines will have to provide full refund without levy of any cancellation fee to those passengers who booked their air tickets during the first phase of lockdown i.e. March 25 to April 14 for travel during the second phase of lockdown i.e. April 15 to May 3 within three weeks of the date of request, the ministry has said in an order issued Thursday.
"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 first lockdown period for travel during the second lockdown period 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," the civil aviation ministry said in its order.
While airlines are providing a credit shell equivalent to the booking amount to the affected passengers for use up to one year, they will now have to provide full refund for any booking made between March 24 and April 14 for travel between April 15 and May 3 if a passenger seeks refund and does not want to avail credit shell.
The India unit of the global aviation consultancy, CAPA, has welcomed the civil aviation ministry's decision and has said that protecting passenger interests during this difficult period is the right thing to do.
"Similarly, flights that are booked during the second lockdown period, for travel from 4 May onwards, should also be eligible for a full cash refund until there is certainty about the date of resumption and the transition schedule that airlines will operate," CAPA India wrote on Twitter.
Industry experts and passenger associations had also advised that the airlines should be restricted from taking bookings beyond May 3 as of now until the government provides clarity regarding flight resumption. However, for now, the government has only issued advisory regarding refunds for bookings made during first lockdown period for travel during second lockdown period.
Follow all coronavirus updates live here