The Supreme Court has clarified that tickets booked through travel agents will be refunded to them, and not directly to the passengers.
The Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah accepted the recommendations made by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) regarding refund of airfare to passengers for tickets booked during the COVID-19 induced lockdown.
During the last hearing, the Apex Court had sought a response from the Centre as to whether the facility of credit shells could apply to tickets booked through travel agents to which the Centre replied that, "The travel agent, if any, involved in the purchase of any ticket on behalf of any passenger remains only a via-media, leaving the principal contract between the airlines and the passenger only, which is the only recognised mode under DGCA regulations."
The Court had earlier asked the Centre to file an additional affidavit clarifying how travel agents will make reimburse the loss incurred by them if the refund of airline fare for tickets booked during the lockdown is made directly to passengers.
In response, DGCA had then informed the Supreme Court that tickets booked by passengers in domestic and international carriers for air travel between 25 March, 2020 and 3 May, 2020 would be refunded fully. For domestic airlines when the ticket has been booked directly by the passenger with the airline, the passenger would be able to consume the credit shell upto 31 March, 2021. The DGCA further said in the affidavit that for all other cases, the airlines shall make all endeavours to refund the amount within 15 days.
The DGCA had also informed that for domestic airlines when the ticket has been booked through a travel agent (including OTA) by the passenger with the airline or for international travel when the ticket has been booked on a foreign carrier and the booking is ex-India, and in cases where the tickets have been booked during the lockdown period for travel within the lockdown period, in such cases full refund shall be given by the airlines immediately (this is being mandated vide MoCA's OM dated 16th April, 2020 as the airlines were not supposed to book such tickets). This amount shall be passed on immediately by the Agent to the passengers.