Aviation ministry proposes slew of passenger-centric measures
Limiting exorbitant air ticket cancellation fee, up to 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 the government on Saturday, 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. Civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said the measures followed complaints from passengers that issues concerning them are not getting resolved within a reasonable time.
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.
The DGCA has proposed that airlines cannot charge more than the base fare for cancellation of air tickets. It has proposed that refunds would be applicable on all fares, including promo and special fares, and all taxes, levies and airport development fees shall be refunded in case of no-show and cancellations. “We will take this forward by amending the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) — rules governing different aspects of civil aviation — but we don’t require to do so in case of proposed changes regarding checked-in baggage. Airlines will have to refund all tax components and the cancellation charges cannot exceed the base fare charged,” said Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Union minister for civil aviation, at the event.
“These measures are passenger centric. We have kept passenger welfare in mind while coming up with them. If airlines do not follow the new rules, it would mean violation of air operator’s permit and passengers can move the consumer forum,” he said.
“We have discussed these proposed amendments with airlines and we don’t think there will be any resistance to them,” said Mahesh Sharma, MoS, civil aviation.
The DGCA has also proposed to reduce the baggage fees to R100 will for every kilogram in excess of 15 kg up to 20 kg. Currently, except for Air India, most airlines charge R300 per kg for baggage exceeding 15 kg.
In case of flight cancellations announced within 24 hours of departure, the compensation amount is enhanced up to Rs 10,000. This amount would be equal to 200% of booked one-way basic fare, plus airline fuel charge subject to a maximum of Rs 10,000.
Compensation amount has been significantly enhanced to up to R20,000 in case of denied boarding due to overbooking. This amount would be equal to 400% of booked one-way basic fare, plus airline fuel charge, subject to a maximum of R20,000. No compensation would be required to be paid in case airline arranges an alternate flight that is scheduled to depart within one hour of the original scheduled departure time.