• Airline cancellation, booking charge hikes under DGCA lens

    In a much belated move, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has finally brought the constant hikes in cancellation and rebooking charges by airlines under its scanner. DGCA chief M Sathiyavathy has asked her deputy Lalit Gupta to examine the entire gamut of these charges and submit a report on the same this week.

    The regulatory move comes as a leading low cost carrier last week hiked cancellation charges to a flat Rs 2,250 for all passengers cancelling up to 2 hours before the flight departs. Before this, passengers cancelling were charged Rs 1,900 if they cancelled tickets more than a week prior to scheduled departure. This was the fourth upward revision in a year. Other airlines are also expected to follow suit.

    “As the safety regulator, we ideally should not interfere in the commercial decisions of airlines. But in this case we are getting complaints from the public. Based on the Lalit Gupta report, we will act if the cancellation/rebooking charges are found to be unreasonable,” said a senior DGCA official.

    In the last one year itself these charges have been hiked several times by some airlines. They started last year with Rs 2,000. Later they had three slabs: Rs 1250 for cancellations 30 days before flight; Rs 1,500 for cancellation from 30 days to a week before departure and Rs 2,000 for a week before flight time. After that these charges were revised to be between 1,900 and Rs 2,250.

    Consumer organisations have been complaining to the DGCA for almost a year but the regulator has not acted so far. Last year, Air Passengers’ Association of India chief Sudhakara Reddy had sent a mail to the aviation ministry and DGCA over the same issue. 

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