The Supreme Court on Thursday went by the recommendation of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) that the airlines will have to give full refund of the air tickets booked during the lockdown within three weeks for the refund from the date of cancellation of the tickets.
"In case, airlines are not in a position to refund the tickets, they should issue credit shell where 0.5% monthly interest will accrue till it is used," the top court held. The credit has to be used latest by March 31, 2021.
A 3-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan, clarified that if tickets were purchased through agents, then the refund will also be done to the agents and the amount shall be passed on immediately by the agent to the passengers. Two other judges on the Bench were Justices R Subhash Reddy and M R Shah.
It said wherever vouchers are issued through agents, they have to be utilised only through agents..." The apex court also asked the Ministry of Civil Aviation to issue compliance notification in the matter.
If a passenger has booked a ticket during the period March 25 to May 24 for travel during the lockdown period and seeks refund, the airline shall refund the full amount collected without any cancellation charges.
Even for international travel, when tickets have been booked on an Indian carrier and the booking is ex-India, immediate refund shall be made.
"In all other cases airline shall refund the collected amount to the passenger within a period of three weeks. In all other cases, the airlines shall make all endeavours to refund the collected amount to the passenger within 15 days from today," the court said.
In case of credit shell, it is open to the passenger to utilize such facility up to 31 March on any route of his choice or transfer it to any person including the travel agent through whom he/she has booked the ticket and the airlines shall honour such a transfer.
The credit shell can be utilized by the concerned agent through whom the ticket is booked for third party use. Even in cases where credit shell is transferred to third party, same is to be utilized only through the agent who has booked the ticket at the first instance.
“In all cases where credit shell is issued there shall be an incentive to compensate the passenger from the date of cancellation upto 30th June, 2020, in which event the credit shell shall be enhanced by 0.5% of the face value (the amount of fare collected) for every month or part thereof between the date of cancellation and 30th June, 2020," the order said.
Thereafter, the value of the credit shell shall be enhanced by 0.75% of the face value per month up to 31 March, it added.