India agents petition for expedited airfare refunds

The IATA Agents Association of India (IAAI) has filed a petition with the Supreme Court of India, calling for the powers to order airlines to expedite refunds for cancelled tickets.

This follows continued inaction from airlines despite the Supreme Court of India instructing the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on June 12 to work out a solution for the refund of airfares to passengers.

Airlines in India continue to deny refunds to travel agents, who are buckling under financial strain

Biji Eapen, national president of IAAI, said: “We have requested aviation regulators to direct airlines (to make) full refunds of all tickets issued before and after March 24 for the flights that were supposed to operate (but were) cancelled due to the coronavirus situation, travel restrictions and lockdowns.”

The elusive airfare refunds have put additional pressure on Indian travel agents who are battling mounting financial losses due to the pandemic.

Jyoti Mayal, president of the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), told TTG Asia that some member travel agents, who have been hounded by clients for airfare refunds, have had to dig into their own pockets, despite that being ill-advised by the association.

In addition to refusing full refunds, airlines have also insisted that financially-stretched travel agents fulfill their IATA payments on time, revealed Mayal.

Vineet Raina, founder and managing director, Pink Elephant Journeys, remarked: “The airlines are legally required to provide refunds to customers who had their flights cancelled because of the coronavirus.

“In most of the cases, the airlines…are providing a credit shell, valid up to one year (in place of full ticket refund). That is clearly in violation of the DGCA instruction.”

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