Other States

Give cash refund for air tickets cancelled due to lockdown, says Prithviraj Chavan

Not doing so is tantamount to abuse of consumer rights, according to senior Congressman

: Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and senior Congressman Prithviraj Chavan on Monday said that not refunding the cost of air tickets for flights cancelled during the lockdown period was tantamount to an abuse of consumer rights.

Mr. Chavan, an MLA from Karad South in Satara district, said he had written to Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri to seek his intervention to ensure cash refunds for air tickets cancelled due to the nationwide lockdown.

In his letter, the Congressman observed that the unprecedented lockdown, which began on March 25, had led airlines across the world to cancel an estimated 4.5 million flights.

“Indian fliers, who were compelled to cancel air tickets following the nationwide lockdown announcement, are therefore entitled to cash refunds. According to the Consumer Protection Act, the contract between a consumer and an airline gives a right to the former to get a cash refund,” Mr. Chavan said.

He further remarked that a number of airlines, including Air India, were not honouring this contract and compelling passengers to accept vouchers without giving any option for cash refund.

“Not all consumers are willing to accept a voucher for future travel. In some cases, airlines are misinforming them on refund policies,” alleged Mr. Chavan.

He noted that Mumbai-based consumer rights organisation Mumbai Grahak Panchayat had recently sought the intervention of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) by drawing their attention to the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection (UNGCP).

“On June 4 this month, the UNCTAD called upon governments of member states (India being among them) to adequately protect consumers by ‘enforcing protection laws against abusive business practices such as penalties and breach of refund rights’,” Mr. Chavan observed.

He accordingly urged Mr. Puri to issue a clarification on refund policies and direct airline operators to prevent abuse of consumer rights while providing a choice of cash refunds with settlement within a specific time period.

Last week, the Supreme Court directed the Centre to take a stand on the ticket refund issue, suggesting that airline operators could extend the credit period for two years instead of the one year that they have offered consumers.

The top court further directed the Centre and the airlines to sit together and devise modalities on ways to refund passengers.

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Printable version | Jul 2, 2020 9:43:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/give-cash-refund-for-air-tickets-cancelled-due-to-lockdown-says-prithviraj-chavan/article31832299.ece

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