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Flight tickets booked between 25 Mar and 3 May will be 'fully refunded': Centre tells SC

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New Delhi, Sep 06: Supreme Court on Sunday was informed by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) that tickets booked by passengers in domestic and international carriers for air travel between March 25 to May 3, 2020, which was the first two phases of lockdown, will be "fully refunded."

Supreme Court

"Non-refund of air tickets booked during lockdown and creation of involuntary credit shell by airlines is a violation of Civil Aviation Requirements and provisions of the Aircraft Rules of 1937," DGCA told SC, according to reports.

Earlier, the top court had issued notices to the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) seeking their replies on the plea which has alleged that airlines have failed to refund the ticket amount and are "illegally imposing" the mechanism of 'credit shell' on unwilling passengers.

The plea, filed by Air Passengers Association of India, claimed that refusal to refund the amount is "arbitrary" and is in blatant violation of the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) as acceptance of 'credit shell' is at the sole discretion of the passengers.

"It is submitted that the airlines are illegally imposing the mechanism of 'credit shell' on the unwilling passengers. The concept refers to a form of credit note which can be used to make a new booking with the same airline for a period so provided by the airline, usually of one year, as is being offered by most of the airlines," said the plea, filed through advocate Rohit Rathi.

The plea said the office memorandum further directed that for ticket booked during the first lockdown period for travel during the second lockdown period from April 15 to May 3 and the passenger seeking refund on cancellation of ticket, the airline shall refund the full amount without levy of cancellation charges.

It said the DGCA had issued a circular on April 19 directing the airlines to refrain from booking tickets for journeys to be undertaken with effect from May 4.

The plea claimed that despite the directives of the ministry and the DGCA, the airlines have failed to refund the ticket amount.

"The action on the part of airlines insofar they fail to refund the money of the passengers is in blatant violation of the CAR given that the acceptance of credit shell' is at the sole discretion of the passengers," it alleged.

"It is submitted that the money lying in the credit shell' may not be of any avail to the passenger who had a specific reason for booking the tickets during the lockdown," the plea said.

It said that in these "testing times", a passenger might require the money lying in 'credit shell' for immediate necessity.

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