Airlines oppose govt's move to increase compensation for passengers

Major airlines have rejected the government’s proposal of amending rules to increase compensation for flyers in case of flight cancellations and delays. The civil aviation ministry’s proposal came as part of its attempt to frame a passenger charter.

Sources said that Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) has asked the government to maintain a status quo on current compensation and any increase will impact the financial viability of the airlines leading to increase in airfare. “In the current scenario, where entire airline industry is bearing the impact of constraints like high operating cost, the impact of high compensation will multiply the financial viability of airlines,” FIA told the government.

We had preliminary discussions with airlines, airports and other industry

participants. This has helped us develop a good first draft of the passenger

charter that we can now place in the public domain for

consultation: Jayant Sinha Minister of State for Civil Aviation
FIA consists of IndiGo, SpiceJet, Go Air and Jet Airways, which among them have more than 80 per cent market share. It also said that most of the times delays and cancellations are a result of infrastructure constraints at airports for which the airlines cannot be held responsible.

The ministry has also recommended an amendment to rules governing delays and cancellations. It has suggested airlines offer compensation ranging Rs 3,000-20,000 for missed flight connections — a move resisted by airlines. “Airlines have special teams for passengers on other flights and at times on other carriers. An airline cannot be held responsible for a destination beyond final destination and if the guest is booked on other carriers or another mode of transport,” FIA said.

The airlines have also opposed the proposal for not charging the passenger in case he or she wants to correct spelling in name within 24 hours of booking. To protect customers who end up paying stiff cancellation charges the government wants airlines not to levy a fee for change in name, in case a spelling error is pointed out by the passenger within 24 hours. Also, the government wants airlines to print cancellation charges on the ticket.

The airlines have said that it is not possible to do that for tickets through online travel portals and travel agents as this could lead to misuse of airline seat inventory.

Government officials said that airline views will be taken into consideration before the rules are placed in public domain. “We have had two rounds of preliminary discussions with airlines, airports and few other industry participants. This has helped us develop a good first draft of the passenger charter that we can now place in the public domain for consultation,” minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha had said.

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