The airlines have refunded Rs 3,200 crore to 74.3 per cent of passengers who had their flights cancelled due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown earlier this year, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said on Friday. The Supreme Court had on October 1 said that a full and immediate refund should be given to passengers for the air tickets cancelled between March 25 and May 24. No scheduled domestic and international passenger flights operated in the country in this period.
"Pursuant to Honourable Supreme Court's order on ticket refund, 74.3% of total 55,23,940 PNRs amounting to Rs 3,200 crore have been refunded. Rest are in process," the ministry wrote. "A total of 2,06,119 credit shells worth Rs 219 crore created by airlines with consent of passengers. MoCA is constantly monitoring the situation," it said.
Based on the court order, aviation regulator DGCA on October 8 had categorised passengers in three categories — those who booked tickets between March 25 and May 24 for travelling within the same period, those who booked tickets prior to March 25 but the travel period was till May 24, and those who booked tickets anytime but for a journey post May 24. The regulator had said the passengers belonging to the first category must be given a full refund by the airline concerned for the tickets cancelled.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had said the airlines should make all endeavours to refund the passengers belonging to the second category within 15 days. If on account of financial stress, any airline/airlines are not able to do so, they shall provide a credit shell equal to the amount of fare collected (to the passenger), it said.
The passengers can then use the credit shells to book any ticket by March 31, 2021, the DGCA had noted. Those belonging to the third category will be given a refund in accordance with the existing DGCA rules.
The Indian aviation industry has been hit hard due to the coronavirus pandemic and as a result, all airlines in the country have opted for cost-cutting measures such as layoffs, leave without pay for the employees, among others. Scheduled domestic passenger flight services resumed in the country after a gap of two months on May 25. Currently, airlines are permitted to operate only up to 80 per cent of their pre-COVID domestic flights.
Scheduled international passenger flights continue to remain suspended in the country since March 23. However, special international passenger flights have been operating under the Vande Bharat mission since May and under air bubble arrangements formed with various countries since July.