Zero fees for cancellation, says Vistara Airlines

Private carrier Vistara has become the first airline to implement zero fees for cancellation and ticket changes for a certain category of tickets, if done upto 72 hours before departure, something that the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) had proposed in the new Passenger Charter.

The changes that came into effect from June 9 are applicable for Vistara customers booking its Flexi fares. This will also be valid on tickets booked through third party sites or travel agents, as the ministry specified so. Vistara, in a mailer to travel agents informed that charges of ₹1,500 and ₹2,500 will be charged as change and cancellation fee, respectively, if these changes are effected within (less than) 72 hours of departure.

The mailer also informed that Super Saver (for economy) and Saver categories will be ₹2500 as change fee and ₹3000 as cancellation fee across economy, premium economy and business class. Any cancellation effected within 2 hours of departure will be treated as a no-show (passenger no showing up) and only taxes will be refundable.

The Hindu had earlier reported that some stakeholders had said that a zero charge can be implemented only on tickets booked using an airline App or website. However, the MoCA has specified that it is for the airlines to make necessary changes in existing agreements with travel agents and online travel agents ot travel websites.

On May 22, Vistara’s chief strategy and commercial officer Sanjiv Kapoor had said they had already been offering free cancellations within 24 hours for the past several months, if done on its website or mobile App. This is subject to the travel being atleast seven days away and will continue, he said.

The travel industry has, however, raised objection to the way the MoCA Draft has been framed without taking the trade into confidence and has submitted its feedback.

Ajay Prakash, former president of Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI), termed the cancellation sub-clause as completely irrational. “An airline needs to be restricted to charging maximum of 100% of the base fare for cancellations. If the airline starts levying penalty of fuel surcharge too, there would be nothing left for the agent as per the clause in the proposed draft,” he said.

Mr. Prakash is also surprised that the draft document is not available on the Directorate General of Civil Aviation or MoCA websites. “The government should ensure that Draft is made available on its website for access to the stakeholders of the aviation business. The Draft is uploaded on the Press Information Bureau (PIB) portal,” he pointed out.

Biji Eapen, president, IATA Agents Association of India (IAAI), said that the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) under Section 3 for refund of airline tickets to passengers specifically directs airlines to ensure that this process should be complied through the respective travel agents or portals. “The recommendation of the Draft charter, is a gross violation of this clause,” he said.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 5:20:07 PM |

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