Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Wednesday issued guidelines for the refund of tickets cancelled amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown. The guidelines came six days after the Supreme Court accepted the aviation regulator’s proposal, allowing airlines to set up credit shell facility in the name of passengers for the refund.

In a statement, the DGCA said that the passengers seeking a refund can be categorised in three categories. In the first category of those who booked the ticket during the lockdown period between March 25 and May 24, the airline should refund the full price of the tickets without charging a cancellation fee, the regulator said, citing the court’s order. It also said that the tickets should be refunded within three weeks from the date of cancellation.

The statement added that if the tickets were booked by a travel agent, the airline should send them the money. These agents will have to refund the amount to the passengers immediately. The same conditions would apply for the tickets booked for international flights, according to the statement.

In the second category of passengers who booked the tickets before the lockdown but the journey was cancelled, the aviation authority said that airlines should refund the ticket within 15 days. It added that if the airlines cannot make the refund because of financial distress, they can set up credit shells in the name of the passengers, who can use it by March 31, 2021. The statement added that passengers can use the credit shell to travel to any location and also transfer it to any person or a travel agent and the airlines have to honour the agreement. The airlines also have to come up with a mechanism to facilitate such transfer, it said.

In the third category of passengers who booked the ticket at any time after May 24, the DGCA said the refund shall be governed by the provisions of applicable Civil Aviation Requirements.

The DGCA said the guidelines are based on the Supreme Court’s order and asked all stakeholders to ensure strict compliance with it.

India instituted a lockdown in March, soon after the first coronavirus cases began to emerge in the country. Both domestic and international flights were grounded. The Centre had allowed domestic flight services to resume on May 25, but at only one-third capacity. The cap was later increased to 45% and then to 60%. However, the suspension of international flights to and from the country has been extended till October 31.

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