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What If Airlines Default Before 31st March 2021 Who Is Going To Be Responsible? : TAAI on Airlines Refund Verdict

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The Hon’able Supreme Court of India has issued a Judgement today with regard to a Writ Petition filed for Airline refunds, due to the global pandemic lockdown.

We respect the judgement of the Supreme Court but feel that the judgement is status quo to what DGCA has previously directed the airlines on. Nothing really to appease our challenges and multiple
communications and meetings had with MoCA and the airlines in the matter stated TAAI President Mrs Jyoti Mayal.

The airlines mostly were giving credit shells. If they were struggling with cash and they will continue to do so stating their inability. The only respite from the earlier direction is that the credit shells will be given to agents if booked through them and not the customer as some airlines were doing.

During our meeting with MoCA we had demanded interest on delayed refunds, stated Mrs. Jyoti Mayal, President-TAAI. The Hon SC has directed 0.5% extra top-up every month on the face value of the ticket, up to 30th June 2020, and thereafter 0.75% up to 31st March 2021. This is much below the standard bank interest rates. Agents and customers are struggling with a cash crunch and basic interest paid to banks are at much higher rates. The agent fraternity needed total cash refunds. We the travel agents have become financiers for the airlines.

We are deeply concerned about the submissions of certain airlines, that they shall shutdown in case pressured for refunds. What if airline/s defaults before 31st March 2021 who is going to be responsible? The Government needs to ensure appropriate assurances/guarantee from the airline/s concerned so as to secure the monies, stated Jay Bhatia, Vice President TAAI. Agents pay advances into float accounts of the airlines and it is their right to claim the monies back for un-utilised funds/nonticketed balances lying with the airlines.

It is also important to note that there is an ambiguity on the credit shell through agents to remain up to 31st March 2021, thereafter refund needs to be paid. The date for complying with refunds post that is not given, he added.

Further, Jyoti Mayal stated that DGCA has washed hands on the SOTO ticket refunds by airline/s.

There has been no direction on the refunds for groups and series bookings done by the agents with the airlines, she added. The Hon’able SC too has not commented on that at all.

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