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Passenger rights charter offers better deal from airlines

Livemint:  February 27, 2019

New Delhi: Air travellers will now be able to cancel or amend tickets without any charges within 24 hours of booking if the travel date is at least a week away, according to a new passenger rights charter the government announced on Wednesday.

The final passenger rights charter released by civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu after nine months of consultation with airlines also mandates carriers to compensate passengers in addition to refunding ticket cost in full or to provide alternate flights acceptable to passengers when they are not intimated about flight cancellations at least a day in advance.

The compensation will be in the range of «Á¢Ä?«Á¢Ä?«Á¢Ä???5,000-10,000 depending on the travel time or one-way base fare plus airline fuel charge, whichever is less.

When flight cancellations are intimated to passengers closer to the travel date but at least a day before departure, the airline has to offer alternate flights or refunds according to the traveller's preference.

Prabhu said the charter seeks to articulate the rights of passengers and the responsibilities of carriers for their mutual benefit. "Over a period of time, airlines will realise that making passenger rights a reality will help them," he said. The aviation policy framework should address both macro issues of the sector as well as micro operational matters, he added. Airlines which face a cost burden when oil prices soar or the rupee depreciates, may, however, find some of the proposals in the charter adding to their costs.

The charter says airlines have to offer alternate flights or full refund when there is a flight delay of more than 6 hours. Passengers have to be told about such delays 24 hours in advance. Also, free hotel accommodation has to be provided when there is a delay of 24 hours or more from the departure time communicated a day ago or when there is a delay of 6 hours in cases where the scheduled departure was between 8 pm and 3 am.

The charter also requires airlines to meet transportation expenses when a passenger is to board from or go to a different airport or terminal without a 6-hour notice.

The move is likely to improve the performance standards of India’s aviation sector, which is projected to be the third largest in the world by 2025 after the US and China.

The charter, a key milestone in the aviation industry's that has grown by a phenomenal 19% annually in the last four years, comes at a time most airlines are working at 85-90% of their capacity and the government is making all-out efforts to improve infrastructure to facilitate future growth as well as regional connectivity.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.