NEW DELHI: India’s aviation ministry is proposing for flyers a summer bonanza they have been seeking for years — low cancellation fees. For departures scheduled more than four days later, travellers can now cancel tickets, free of cost, within 24 hours of booking the journey.
“No cancellation charges will apply on tickets within 24 hours of their booking, provided the tickets are booked 96 hours before the flight’s departure,” Jayant Sinha, minister of state for civil aviation, said Tuesday, referring to a draft charter on passenger rights. Furthermore, passengers will also be allowed to amend journey details, without attracting penalties, in the first 24 hours of purchasing a ticket. For departures scheduled within the next 96 hours, or four days, these concessions would not apply though.
The government has also proposed that the cancellation fee, under no circumstances, exceed base fares. These proposals are part of the draft passenger charter that has been put up for discussions. The rules are likely to come into force after a month.
“Earlier, cancellation fees charged by travel agents and online portals would increase the total charges to more than what the base fare was. Under the new passenger charter, we have mandated that it cannot be more than the base even after ..
Other provisions in the draft charter mention compensation for passengers if they miss connecting flights due to an airline’s fault.
“If a flight is cancelled due to airline’s fault, the airline has to refund the ticket. Airlines have to compensate if passengers missed connecting flights due to a delay…. Under Digiyatra initiative, a unique ID will help air travellers with faster service at airports. And the Aadhaar will not be mandatory,” said aviation minister Suresh Prabhu.
The proposed compensation ranges from Rs 5,000 for a delay of 3 hours to Rs 20,000 for more than 12 hours. ET had reported first on the compensation proposal in its edition on April 19.
Indian carriers, however, say that the compensation amount is on the higher side, considering the low yields.
“Compensation levels should reflect the low fares and yields in India, which are among the lowest in the world,” said an airline executive, who did not want to be identified.
The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), which represents IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and GoAir, said that it does not have any comments to offer at this stage. FIA, notably, had opposed the move on monetary compensation for delays.
“Airlines being held responsible for missed connections beyond what is the final destination is tantamount to madness,” said a senior airline executive, who did not want to be identified.
“This is not practised anywhere in the world. Do the railways pay if train delays result in a missed flight? The vast majority of delays are caused due to infrastructure constraints and other factors not in our control.”
Separately, aviation secretary RN Choubey said that the telecom ministry is working on licensing regulations to allow Wifi on flights in India.
“Regulations should be out in a week and airlines may be able to offer Wifi on flights in two months from now,” said Choubey.