• Government is attempting to take the fuss out of flying – but airlines won’t let the plan take off

    India might be the fastest developing economy in the world but 98% of the country’s citizens have never been inside an aircraft. The Narendra Modi government is trying to change that. Apart from connecting remote locations with aircrafts, the air travel regulator has been ushering new policies that will make it more attractive for travellers to fly.

    These policies range from faster redressal of complaints to lower charges levied on excess baggage or cancellation. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation which acts as a regulator for the aviation sector in India recently introduced a new civil aviation policy and has mandated that airlines follow its new passenger-centric rules.

    Behind these rules is the philosophy that airline operators shouldn’t harass or extort money from travellers in the name of extra charges – something that even the so-called budget airlines have resorted to do. DGCA has taken a stand and mandated that airlines will be charged harsher penalty than before on cancellation or delays of flights.

    For instance, about 1% of all domestic flights in the country are cancelled each year, causing great inconvenience to customers and a financial drain for the operator. In 2015, Jet Airways paid Rs 3 crore in compensation to passengers while Air India ended up paying a hefty Rs 13 crore. Now, this amount will go up substantially.
    Starting August 1, airlines will have to shell out upto Rs 10,000 per passenger on cancellation or delay in a flight beyond two hours. Moreover, carriers that deny boarding permission to passengers will have to pay Rs 20,000 in damages to the passenger.

    These measures are not only aimed at providing customers with fair compensation but could also end up enforcing discipline amongst the carriers. Over the three month period between March to May, almost one in five domestic flights was delayed.

    The ratio was even higher for state-owned operator Air India which saw 25% of its flights failing to reach on-time, according to data collected at the four metro airports of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. Jordan Jenkins Jersey

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