The Supreme court on Wednesday sought further clarification from the Centre over the possibility of refund for flight tickets booked before the lockdown periods for travelling during the lockdown period.
The apex court has also asked the Union government to clarify the refund criteria for flights being cancelled after the lockdown period amidst the covid-19 pandemic.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta apprised the bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan that the Centre, after having a meeting with all the airlines and stakeholders, has come with a detailed proposal. The proposal includes full refund for all tickets (Domestic, International and foreign carriers) booked between 25 March and 3 May.
Mehta said that the Centre has filed its proposal on the refund of the tickets while taking care of the interests of the passengers and ensuring that the airlines do not suffer from immediate financial difficulty on account of refund.
Justice MR Shah asked Mehta for clarification with respect to the refund of flights cancelled after the resumption of operations, when the lockdown was lifted. “When the lockdown was there and flights were cancelled that is a different subject. But when the flights are resumed and functioning now and flight operator cancels the flight due to some technical difficulty then what is the position on refund?” said Justice Shah.
The apex court asked Mehta to file an additional counter affidavit to clarify the points of the stakeholders.
Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde argued, “The proposal of Centre is only confined to tickets booked during the lockdown. Refund should be given to all cancellations due to lockdown, irrespective of when tickets were booked.”
Senior Counsel Harish Salve, representing SpiceJet, said” We are in agreement with the Centre’s stand. We will comply with the order.”
Counsel for GoAir, Indigo, Air Asia and Vistara sought time for filing of response to Government’s affidavit.
Advocate Neela Gokhale representing travel agents’ federation said, “all our money is lying with the airlines. There is nothing on the affidavit to deal with the travel agents and all of our money is blocked with the airlines.”