The civil aviation ministry has proposed an increase in compensation or cancellation fees. It also intends to provide monetary benefits to passengers for missed flight connections- a move vehemently opposed by airlines.
Minister of state for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said that the Draft Passenger Charter defining rights for air passengers is being opened for public consultation. “It will contribute to a hassle-free air travel experience,” Sinha said. The government also proposed that it will be mandatory for airlines to reserve seat with adequate leg space, free of charge for person with disability, until close to the time of departure.
Airlines have severely opposed any such change in compensation saying that such rules coupled with a high fuel price environment will be result in huge commercial loss.
“Most of the time the default are due to infrastructure constraint at major airports for which the airline cannot be held liabke. In the current scenario when the entire industry is bearing burnt of high oil price, increase in compensation can multiple financial loss of airlines,” industry body Federation of Indian Airlines which consist of four major airlines- IndiGo, SpiceJet, Jet Airways and Go Air conveyed.
According to the new rules, if the flight delay is communicated more than 24 hours prior to original scheduled and the delay is for more than four hours, airlines have to offer option of full refund of ticket to the passenger.
If the delay involves the flight to fly on the next day, that is airline to offer additional free-of-charge hotel accommodation. For the first time the government has proposed to that airlines should provide compensation if the delay causes a passenger to miss a connecting flight. The penalty can be as steep as Rs 20,000.
Airlines have strongly opposed this move. “Airlines cannot be held responsible for journey to destination beyond what is printed in ticket and booked on other means of transport,” a private airline executive said.
The ministry has also for the first time proposed rules in case of delay on tarmac. When the flight is stationed on the tarmac for more than 120 minutes, passengers must be de-boarded. If the flight is stationed on the tarmac for more an hour, snacks and beverages are to be provided to the passengers.
In case of ticket cancellation, airline not to levy any additional charge for correction in name up to three characters only and when error in the name spelling is pointed out by the passenger to the airline within 24 hours of making a reservation. A flyer should also be allowed Lock-in option for 24 hours (after booking ticket) in which the passenger can cancel or amend the ticket without any charges.
A private airline executive remarked – After the increases in fuel prices if government hikes compensation then it will just add to costs of airlines.
Source: Business Standard