In a consumer-friendly move incubated by NGO Pravasi Legal Cell, all flights booked during the lockdown period (March 25 through May 24) will be reimbursed, provided the customer requests a refund. The refund will be without any deduction of cancellation charges and will have to be made either in cash or in credits. To be clear, the tickets may have been booked at any date, but the travel must be within the dates mentioned earlier. The amount in credit shell will earn a 0.5% interest from the airlines till 30th June, 2020 and after that at 0.75% till 31st March, 2021.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation's (DGCA) proposed this solution and the Supreme Court concurred. However, the apex court is not unaware of the financial distress the airlines industry has been since COVID-19 reared its head on the world. But then, the court holds the customers too innocent and at the receiving end as well because the ban to curb movement was the prudent response at the time. This bench was headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan and comprising Justices R. Subhash Reddy and M.R.
Showing moderation in its judgement, the Supreme Court allows for a possibility of credit in case the companies find it difficult to pay back in cash on account of financial distress. The credit will be transferable and have validity till March 31, 2021.
Amid all these, the bench commented that they are aware that air passenger traffic has seen a massive reduction and is being gradually restored, and actions like the one imposed by the bench using clause under Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) will make it difficult for the airlines industry to jump-start and revive itself.