Decision of DGCA: Airlines to refund all statutory taxes and dues, excluding fuel surcharge
Domestic airlines will be allowed to keep fuel charge component of a cancelled ticket and the Centre has mandated them to refund all the other statutory taxes and dues paid by passengers.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), in its final rules published on July 12, has fixed a cap on cancellation fee. As per the earlier proposal the cancellation charges included the base fare alone. Now, with the final rule, airlines will not have to refund the fuel charges of a cancelled ticket to the passenger. The rules will take effect on August 1.
Implication of the decision
The move will give airlines some room to charge up to Rs.400-Rs.500 extra for a cancelled ticket. However, the cancellation charges will still be considerably reduced from the present fee levied by both airlines and travel agents.
For instance, the cheapest airfare for travel on July 31 on the Delhi-Mumbai route would cost Rs.2,847 if booked from a travel portal. Passengers will get a refund of Rs.297 if the ticket is cancelled. However, when the new rules set in, the passengers may get up to Rs.881 as refund for the cancelled ticket. The airlines will have to refund passenger service fee, service tax, user development fee and other taxes even for promotional or special fares.
Transparency in the new rules
The airlines will have to indicate in an unambiguous manner the amount of refund of money admissible on cancellation of a ticket. The airlines shall not levy any additional charge to process the refund.
The rules also put onus on airlines to process refund of cancelled ticket purchased from travel agents who are their “appointed representatives.” Airlines have to ensure that passengers get the refund within 30 working days. The move might trigger a legal recourse as the airlines had strongly opposed it.
Rules for passenger with disability
In a separate set of rules, the DGCA has also enlisted a slew of measures to be taken by airlines for passengers with disability or reduced mobility.
1. It shall be the responsibility of the persons with disability or reduced mobility to notify their needs at least 48 hours before the scheduled time of departure so that the airline makes necessary arrangements.
The airlines will have to provide “all assistive devices” free of cost to differently -abled passengers.
Domestic airlines had opposed this and requested the government to charge a nominal fee for providing certain devices such as ambulift and wheelchairs as they bear the cost of such devices provided by ground handling agencies.
2. “To ensure safety of aircraft operations,” the maximum number of differently-abled passengers permitted to travel in a single flight should not be more than the number of cabin crew “except when such passengers are accompanied by trained escorts.”
3. Airports will have to reserve parking spaces close to the terminal building for persons with disability or reduced mobility and provide ramps at least at the main entrance or exit gates.