HC to hear in May plea for refund, alternative flights to grounded Jet Airways passengers

New Delhi, Apr 24 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Wednesday said it will hear next week the plea seeking direction to the Civil Aviation Ministry and the DGCA to ensure refunds or provide alternative travel mode for passengers who have booked tickets with Jet Airways, which has temporarily suspended all its domestic and international flights.A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice A J Bhambhani however remarked that "it (plea) is filed only for publicity, come on May 1".The bench observed that the petition was all in the media reports even before coming up for hearing in the court.The plea, filed by activist Bejon Kumar Misra, said the sudden suspension of air services of Jet Airways has resulted in a major crisis for the passengers who were not informed about it earlier.The application sought direction to the ministry and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to adopt prompt redressal mechanism for all affected passengers to access full refund of air tickets with reasonable compensation or arrange alternative mode of travel for them to reach their destination as an emergency exercise.The plea, filed through advocates Shashank Deo Sudhi and Shashi Bhushan, said: "It is common knowledge that all competitor airlines have exorbitantly increased their airfares and the toothless and vulnerable consumers are constrained to suffer not only in terms of money, but also in terms of mental harassment of unprecedented scale."Citing media report, it said more than Rs 360 crore of the passengers/consumers' hard earned money is under threat due to non-refund of ticket value."The passengers have to not only purchase alternative tickets at highly exorbitant cost, but also go through lots of anxieties and mental agony. This has resulted in profiteering by other airlines at the cost of the passengers and till date no relief has been announced by the respondents (Ministry and DGCA)."It is on record that such a situation was existing for more than two years, but was intentionally allowed by the authorities without any concern for passengers and other affected parties," the plea claimed.It also said an amendment to the existing laws and appointment of an effective regulator is the need of the hour to protect the interest of passengers and regulate airfares in an open and transparent manner to avoid such events in future.After months of uncertainty, Jet Airways announced temporary suspension of its operations on April 17 as it failed to receive emergency funds from lenders.A day after the airline suspended operations, hundreds of employees gathered in the national capital seeking measures to revive the carrier, which has been in operation for nearly 26 years.Domestic lenders have invited bids for selling stake in Jet Airways. On April 18, the lenders said they were "reasonably hopeful" that the bidding process for the airline would end successfully. PTI SKV SA