Following the aviation regulator DGCA's tweet on May 17 concerning suspension of both domestic and international flights until the end of this month, passengers began to ask for refunds over the social media platform.
And yet again they were told that no refunds shall be issued and instead the tickets shall be preserved in a credit shell. As per estimates, tickets for both domestic and international flights costing a total of Rs. 4000 crore are now in limbo. And out of this, tickets worth up to Rs. 100 crore were booked for flights between May 18 and May 31.
The government on the last day of lockdown 3.0 i.e. May 17 along with the extension of lockdown till May 31 granted some relaxations, but hopes of the airline industry were dashed yet again as flights were further suspended.
And after the announcement, the regulator via the circular said that the suspension of all domestic and international scheduled commercial passenger flights were "further extended up to 11:59 pm on May 31". "Foreign and domestic airlines shall be suitably informed about the opening of their operations whether international to or from India or domestic, respectively, in due course," it added.
Responding to a Indigo passenger who asked for immediate refund, the airlines said, "Sir, as per the directives received, full refund is applicable only if the booking is made between 25th March- 14th April for travel during 25th Mar to 03rd May. For other reservations, we are creating a credit shell. Appreciate your understanding..." The lockdown 2.0 period was from April 15 to May 3 and in lockdown 3.0 restrictions were further put in place till May 17.
On April 16, in a notice the ministry of civil aviation directed the airlines to refund tickets that were booked between March 25 and April 14 i.e. the first phase of lockdown for travel between March 25 and May 3.
The passengers criticized the directive saying that most of the tickets were booked before March 25. Further only few must have made the bookings during lockdown 1.0 for travel in the second.
Now the validity of this April 16 notice has not been extended so far by either the DGCA or the ministry of civil aviation.
So, passengers for now have to wait for the decision of the Supreme Court on a petition that asks airlines to make refunds against the tickets.
Indigo, Vistara and GoAir told a leading online business portal that tickets would be saved in a credit shell. And for the lockdown 4.0 too, Indigo has given the same message but others are still to respond.