Limiting exorbitant air ticket cancellation fee, upto five-fold hike to Rs 20,000 in compensation for denied boarding and steep reduction in excess baggage fee are among a slew of steps proposed by Government today, in a move that will give fliers some reason to cheer.
The changes in the rules mooted by the Civil Aviation ministry that will cover domestic and international flights involving Indian carriers come against the backdrop of complaints by passengers and cancellation and delays of over 4,000 and 63,400 flights respectively last year.
The Government has given a two-week time to stakeholders to submit their suggestions and comments before finalising and implementing the new norms. The proposed changes in the excess baggage fee norm will, however, be implemented from June 15, Director General of Civil Aviation M Sathiyavathy said.
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Suggesting a slew of passenger-centric measures, the Civil Aviation Ministry said airlines will have to refund all statutory taxes levied in the event of flight cancellations.
Aviation regulator DGCA has proposed that “under no circumstances the cancellation charges be more than the basic fare” and carriers cannot levy additional charge to process the refund.
In case of checked-in baggage, the airlines would be charging Rs 100 per kg for baggage weight in excess of 15 kg upto 20 kg. At present, Rs 300 is levied for every kg of baggage beyond the 15-kg limit.
Only Air India allows free baggage up to 23 kg.
With regard to denied boarding, mainly due to overbooking, the government has proposed compensation up to Rs 20,000 subject to certain conditions.
While all domestic airlines, including state-owned carrier Air India, refused to comment on the Government’s proposed “passenger centric amendments,” fliers body APAI welcomed the move, saying that the changes brought about after almost a decade will be a “big relief” to the fliers and encourage more people to take to air travel.
Aviation experts, however, criticized the proposed changes and said it could reverse the engine of growth in the aviation market, which grew fastest in the world last fiscal.
In January-March period, 10 Indian carriers accounted for a total of 18,512 delayed flights, according to the data presented in Parliament during the Budget session.
The proposals have been discussed with the airlines and “they are on board,” Sathiyavathy claimed, adding, “We don’t expect any resistance from the airlines.”
The Ministry has also proposed measures to help passengers with reduced mobility.