DGCA proposals: ‘Cap cancellation charges, slash baggage fee’

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The government on Saturday proposed a slew of passenger centric initiatives including a cap on ticket cancellation charges, increased compensation for denied boarding and steep reduction in excess baggage fee levied by airlines. The Ministry of Civil Aviation announced that airlines will have to refund all statutory taxes in case of flight cancellations.

Directorate General of Civil Aviation (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 kilogram for baggage weight in excess of 15 kg till 20 kg. At present, Rs 300 is levied on every kilogram of baggage beyond the 15-kg limit.

The ministry has also proposed measures to help passengers with reduced mobility.

Civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said the measures are being proposed as there have been complaints from passengers that issues are not getting resolved within a reasonable time.

To bring in the new measures, the DGCA has suggested changes to three civil aviation requirements and to an air transport circular. They would be put up for public consultations before taking a final decision.

DGCA chief M Sathiyavathy said the proposals have been discussed with the airlines and “they are on board”. “We don’t expect any resistance from the airlines,” she said.

For denied boarding and flight cancellations, DGCA proposed revised compensation structures depending on the arrangement of an alternative flight for the traveller.

An amount equal to 200 per cent of booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge subject to the maximum limit of Rs 10,000 would be given in case the carrier arranges the alternative flight within 24 hours of the scheduled departure.

The quantum would go up to 400 per cent of booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge and the maximum would be Rs 20,000 where the alternative flight is provided after 24 hours.

“In case the passenger does not opt for an alternative flight, refund of full value of ticket and compensation equal to 400 per cent of booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, subject to maximum of Rs 20,000 will be given,” the regulator said.

According to the watchdog, no compensation would be paid if a passenger is informed about the cancellation at least two weeks before the scheduled departure and if the airline has arranged another flight depending on the passenger’s convenience.

This would be applicable, subject to conditions, even on instances where the cancellation has been informed less than two weeks and up to 24 hours before the scheduled departure.

In such a case, there would be no compensation if the carrier has arranged alternative flight scheduled to depart within two hours of their booked scheduled departure.

In cancellations, the financial compensation would be Rs 5,000 or booked one-way basic fare plus airline fuel charge, whichever is less, for flights having a block time of up to one hour. This quantum would be Rs 7,500 in case of flights having a block time of one to two hours. For flights having a block time of more than two hours, the financial compensation would go up to Rs 10,000.

Block hours refer to the moment a commercial aircraft leaves the departure gate until it lands and reaches the arrival gate, or till its engines are working.

Airlines would be required to refund “all statutory taxes and User Development Fee (UDF)/Airport Development Fee (ADF)/ Passenger Development Fee (PSF) to the passengers in case of cancellation/non-utilisation of tickets/no show”.

As per existing rules, carriers have to return PSF collected by them in case of cancellation of a flight.