Coronavirus | Plea in Supreme Court seeks full refund for air tickets cancelled due to lockdown

Aviation Ministry order covers bookings made only during lockdown, which has no logic: petitioner

April 20, 2020 10:17 pm | Updated December 03, 2021 06:46 am IST - NEW DELHI

Grounded: Planes of different airlines parked at the airport in New Delhi on Monday.

Grounded: Planes of different airlines parked at the airport in New Delhi on Monday.

A petition was filed on Monday seeking directions that airline companies should fully refund tickets cancelled due to the coronavirus ( COVID-19 ) lockdown.

The petition filed by the Pravasi Legal Cell has also challenged an April 16 Office Memorandum (OM) of the Civil Aviation Ministry which covers only the refund of tickets booked during the lockdown period . The OM leaves out the vast majority of passengers who booked tickets before the flights were banned due to the lockdown.


“There is no question of anyone booking a ticket during the lockdown period knowing the fact that schedule passenger flights were cancelled for period of travel. This makes the Office Memorandum of the Ministry of Civil Aviation ambiguous and devoid of any logic. The office memorandum is in clear violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution in so far as directing the airlines to provide full refund of ticket amount only if the ticket is booked during the lockdown period for travel during the lockdown, which amounts to treating equals unequally,” the petition contended.

Credit shell

It said the OM indirectly approves the practice of airlines providing credit shell for booking effected before the lockdown, though the same clearly violates the refund rules of the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).


“Airlines, instead of providing the full refund of the amount collected for the tickets due to cancellation, are providing a credit shell, valid up to one year, which is in clear violation of the Civil Aviation Requirement of May 2008 issued by the DGCA,” the petition said.

2008 order

It said the DGCA clearly required that “the option of holding the refund amount in credit shell by the airlines shall be the prerogative of the passenger and not a default practice of the airline.”

The May 2008 DGCA requirement mandates that refunds should be done within seven days from date of cancellation in case of credit card payments. In case of cash payment, the ticket refund should be made immediately.

‘Harsh on passengers’

On the other hand, the April 16 Memorandum allows airlines 30 days after receiving a passenger’s request for a refund.

“Airline companies, instead of showing humanitarian virtues, are rather seeing these challenging times as an opportunity to extract unlawful gains from the people who are already in misery due to uncertainties. That the present policy is extremely harsh on the ordinary passengers who booked tickets in advance for travelling,” the petition said.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.