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New air passenger-friendly norms soon

New Delhi: Domestic air passengers will soon be able to avail of full refunds and additional compensation for flight delays/cancellations as the government on Tuesday put in the public domain a new ‘passenger charter’ for eliciting comments/suggestions before notifying them.

The new air passenger charter seeks to amend current norms for charges incurred by travellers on cancellation and rescheduling of air travel, among other things.

However, the new compensation structure will apply only if it is found that the flight delay or cancellation was caused by the airline concerned.

Jayant Sinha, MoS Aviation, told mediapersons on Tuesday that the government is mulling making it mandatory for domestic aviation companies to be more accountable to their respective passengers.

Sinha said that for a flight delay, the concerned airline could compensate passengers in several ways which would be outlined shortly. And in case the flight is cancelled, passengers would be entitled to the compensation or be refunded the complete cost of ticket. Sinha however did add that it has to be the fault of airlines for the penalties to be imposed on it – possibly hinting that delays or cancellation due to circumstances like weather may not come under the ambit.

Currently, domestic cancellation charges according to the DGCA are Rs 3,000 or base fare added with fuel surcharge per ticket – whichever may be lower.

Several airline companies have argued that often, cancellation and delays are not their fault and any heavy penalty rule could be possibly misinterpreted.

The new norms are expected to be notified by July 15 after public comments on the draft charter have been sought by the Ministry of Civil Aviation within a month.

As per the proposed entitlements, passengers will get full refunds, additional compensation and more in case an airline is found to be at fault for the delay or flight cancellation.

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