The Supreme Court on Tuesday admitted a writ petition filed by Air Passengers Association of India for a full refund on tickets for domestic and international flights cancelled during the lockdown period.
A three-judge Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan issued notice to the government on the petition filed by the association through its president Sudhakar Reddy, represented by senior advocate C.A. Sundaram and advocate Rohit Rathi.
The association, which protects the interests of fliers, said airlines were compelling passengers to acquiesce to a “credit shell” system in “blatant disregard” for an April 16 circular of the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
“The April 16 circular requires airlines to refund the money of passengers for the cancelled flights scheduled during the lockdown period within three weeks from the date of requests for cancellation, without levying any cancellation charges,” the petition said.
Refusal of the airlines to refund ticket amount was “arbitrary and ultra vires,” it said.
The petition said opening a credit shell would hardl brings any succour for the passengers, as they might have originally booked their flights for a definite purpose which had now become redundant. Again, the sectors in which the flights were operating or the price of tickets now would not be feasible for passengers.
Finally, they may require the refund money for an immediate necessity.
The court is likely to hear the case in the third week of July.
The same Bench had in a separate but similar case asked the government to meet with the airlines and work out a credit pattern on air tickets cancelled during lockdown period.
The Bench, which also comprises Justices S.K. Kaul and M.R. Shah, had suggested to the government that the credit shell should be operational for up to one-and-a-half to two years.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing airline interests, had at the time said a full refund on air tickets cancelled during lockdown was not given anywhere in the world.
“We have zero revenue... Absolute zero revenue,” he said.