Have you been held up, or missed an important engagement because of a delayed or cancelled flight? Well, if the Union Ministry’s recommendations are implemented, the compensation may increase up to Rs 20,000 per flier, if the airlines make a mistake.
In the competitive world of civil aviation, the bar has been raised by the ministry. The draft of a passenger charter will soon be put out which will list all the proposals. It will consider comments from the carriers as well as the public before issuing the final set of rules.
The airlines are crying foul, claiming that domestic airfares in India, are among the lowest in the world. Despite running hundreds of flights daily, the aviation sector still struggles to stay afloat. The airlines claim that such steps will lead to “fare hikes”, as someone has to bear the cost–in this case, the passenger.
The Federation of Airlines (FIA), a body comprising Jet Airways, IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir, jointly wrote to the ministry, claiming that existing rules and compensation already cover passengers in a fair manner. The FIA warns that increasing compensation levels, will increase operational costs, and consequently, airfares for passengers. The Airlines blame the severe infrastructure crunch at air terminals, ATC constraints and unpredictable weather conditions for delays.
The draft lists fines that the airlines owe the passengers. It includes many perks, like free hotel stays. It also lists compensation for events that were not considered earlier, like providing free snacks and beverages to passengers, if there is a flight delay of 1-2 hours on tarmac. If the delay is more than two hours, passengers should be allowed to de-board.
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With the airlines and the authorities arguing over the limit, the government has stepped in to safeguard passenger interests. In their agenda, both consumer and airline rights shall be considered, and a middle ground will be reached.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)