‘Airlines must not sell tickets from Apr. 14’

The government must “immediately review” its decision to allow airlines to continue to sell tickets from April 14 when there has been no decision on lifting the lockdown, else passengers will face steep losses, aviation consultancy CAPA said.

“As of now , significant funds of passengers are already locked with Indian carriers as a result of advance bookings prior to the lockdown and a decision to allow bookings post April 14 without any decision of lifting the lockdown will increase the risks which need to be avoided,” it said in a statement.

Even after the lockdown is lifted, CAPA said, airlines should be allowed to sell tickets for those routes that are opened up by the government and not for the entire network, according to the aviation consultancy company.

“Giving credit vouchers for all advance bookings prior to the lockdown was expected and is reasonable but not for bookings post April 14,” it added. Several airlines like SpiceJet, Vistara and GoAir have been offering passengers vouchers instead of refunds on tickets cancelled due to travel restrictions imposed by the government. While all airlines are allowing passengers to book tickets after April 14, Air India has stopped bookings until April 30.

It cited the example of Kingfisher Airlines and Jet Airways shutting down operations due to cash crunch, leaving several passengers without any hope of claiming a refund of their tickets.

Last year, Jet Airways started cancelling flights in large numbers from February as agencies from whom it hired planes on rent were unpaid, yet there was no order from the government asking the airline to suspend its operations. The airline continued to sell tickets over the next 45 days, until it was eventually forced in mid-April to shut its entire operations. Following this, the airline and travel booking portals were dragged to various courts for non-payment and in one of the cases the Supreme Court even declined to entertain a plea on repayment by Jet Airways.

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 2:39:32 PM |

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