The Centre on Friday warned travel agents to not delay repayment of passengers in cases where money has already been paid by airlines. Travel agents have been directed to not give travel vouchers for future use to passengers. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said that if agents still resort to such malpractices then it would initiate action against them for violation of Supreme Court's October 1 judgment.
The regulator said that travel agents are obligated to immediately transfer refund to passengers once the same is received from the airline. "Withholding of such refunded amount, by travel agents, in any manner whatsoever, would amount to gross and blatant violation SC directions," it said.
The regulator also said that in certain cases airlines have already refunded fares but travel agents have withheld them and have not refunded the passengers. "Certain travel agents though have received the refund from airline but instead of refunding it to passengers, are issuing vouchers to such passengers on their own and thus indirectly withholding the refund amount with them," it said.
Travel agents do not directly come under the gambit of the DGCA but it can report violation of SC order and initiate action against them. The DGCA has asked all travel agents and stakeholders to strictly comply with the apex court's order.
"The Supreme Court had directed that in case tickets were booked by passenger through travel agents and airline has refunded fare to such travel agent either on its own or in compliance with the SC (order), the travel agent shall immediately transfer that refund amount to such passenger... travel agents can't withhold the refund amount with themselves once the same is paid by the airline," the DGCA order says.
The DGCA had also issued detailed guidelines for refund of fares for flights cancelled during COVID-19.Based on the court order, the DGCA categorised passengers in three categories -- those who booked tickets between March 25 and May 24 for travelling within the same period, those who booked tickets prior to March 25 but the travel period was till May 24, those who booked tickets anytime but for a journey post May 24.