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Your Air India Express flight has been canceled. What do the law, verdicts and guidelines say? – First position

Mass sick leave among Air India Express cabin crew has led to abrupt cancellations of many flights, putting passengers in great difficulty. PTI

Whatever measures Air India Express takes, such as dismissing employees who went on mass leave without notice, it is ultimately the passengers who bear the brunt. Just recently, Vistara passengers faced disruption when pilots and crew members failed to show up at the airport. The Air India Express situation is even more dire as many passengers only find out about their flight cancellation after going through security checks.

Since Tuesday evening, around 15,000 passengers have already been affected by canceled flights. Air India Express, which operates between 350 and 400 flights per day, including over 250 domestic flights and 120 international flights, is now reducing its daily flight schedule by around 40 until May 13. On Thursday, 74 Air India Express flights were canceled.

Ideally, when flights are canceled, passengers should not be left in the dark or feel stranded. It is crucial that airlines and relevant authorities communicate promptly with affected travelers, providing them with clear information about the situation, alternative arrangements and steps for refunds or deferrals.

However, the real question is are airlines doing enough? The following video from Delhi, shared on

Where is the DGAC?

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has clearly stated in its guidelines that no compensation will be given for cancellations and delays resulting from extraordinary circumstances beyond the control of the airline, including:

  • Natural disasters

  • Civil unrest or war

  • Political instability

  • Security threats

  • Insurrection or riots, floods, explosions, etc.

  • Government Regulations Impacting Flight Operations

  • Strikes and labor disputes interrupting services

  • Weather situation

  • Cancellations and delays directly caused by air traffic control (ATC)

  • Work slowdowns or interruptions and other factors beyond the airline’s control affecting flight operations.

However, none of these conditions appear to apply to Air India Express in the current circumstances. Mass sick leave does not meet any of the conditions mentioned above.

Mass sick leave also cannot fall under Section 2(q) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, which states: “a strike is a stoppage of work by a group of people employed in an industry acting in common; or a concerted refusal on the part of a number of persons who are or have been so employed to continue to work or to accept employment; or the refusal, according to a common agreement, of a certain number of these people to continue working or to accept employment.»

What will the passengers do?

Whatever the reasons, airline passengers who have booked their tickets legally and are hardly cheap these days cannot be left to their own devices.

The Passenger Charter published by the Ministry of Civil Aviation explains the rights of affected passengers if the airline fails to arrange another flight scheduled to depart within one hour of the originally scheduled departure time:

  • Compensation equal to 200% of the booked one-way base fare plus the airline’s fuel surcharge, capped at Rs 10,000, if the airline organizes another flight scheduled to depart within 24 hours of the originally scheduled departure.

  • Compensation equal to 400% of the booked one-way base fare plus the airline’s fuel surcharge, capped at Rs 20,000, if the airline organizes another flight scheduled to depart more than 24 hours after the originally scheduled departure.

  • Refund of the full ticket value and compensation equal to 400% of the one-way base fare booked plus the airline’s fuel surcharge, capped at Rs 20,000, if you choose not to take another flight.

This is what Sagar Aggarwal, managing partner of Areness, says about what passengers can do to assert their rights.

“In cases where the airline cancels the flight itself, the DGCA has directed airlines to refund the entire booking amount to the passenger or, alternatively, adjust the amount of any other booking made by the passenger with the same airline. Similar guidance was first observed on a large scale during the pandemic, where India’s aviation regulatory watchdog, the DGCA, quickly adopted regulations to protect the interests of air passengers. Aggarwal said.

“The DGCA has also put in place a grievance mechanism for a passenger to file a grievance with the Nodal Officer and in case of inaction, the grievance officer can be followed up. If the grievance remains unresolved, the passenger can approach AirSewa,” he said.

“However, in cases where passengers do not receive timely full refunds/adjustments or in cases where the passenger suffers additional indirect loss due to the higher price of an alternative flight of the same time or the likelihood of missing a connecting flight, the passenger can avail his remedies as a consumer under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, through which he can claim additional compensation for the indirect losses suffered,” Aggarwal said.

“Given that the current airline reservation industry is largely dominated by e-commerce and private agents/intermediaries, it is highly likely that some passengers will still feel lost even after receiving a full refund. For these clients, the ideal remedy is action under the CPA only,” he said.

Indirect losses are losses resulting from missed connecting flights, hotel reservations and other incidental losses resulting from flight cancellations.

“Witnessing the current turmoil, the airline industry is facing frequent cases of passengers being hit in the meantime due to strikes/furloughs and employment issues within their respective airlines. It is strongly recommended that the DGCA adopt civil aviation regulations to manage their workforce. » Aggarwal said.

Legal recourse for passengers is not uncommon

According to a report from The best Indiain January 2019, a consumer court in Mumbai ruled in favor of Jayesh Pandya, a resident of Vile Parle, ordering GoAir to compensate him a sum slightly over Rs 98,000. Pandya had purchased tickets worth Rs 50,000 for 25 guests who were to attend his daughter’s wedding, scheduled for February 17, 2015. However, the airline abruptly canceled the flight, causing inconvenience to passengers.

Last October, a consumer court in Bangalore upheld the rights of passengers amid flight cancellations triggered by pandemic circumstances. The verdict highlights the responsibility of airlines to fully refund the tickets of affected passengers.

In October 2020, the Supreme Court issued a directive stating that airlines must refund the money collected from tickets canceled due to the lockdown imposed amid the coronavirus pandemic, without levying cancellation fees. The three judges, headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan, approved the DGCA’s recommendations regarding ticket refunds. In addition, the court approved a fictitious credit system, valid until March 31, 2021.

According to ReutersIn August, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) launched legal action against Australia’s flagship carrier, alleging it sold tickets for many flights even after they were canceled, potentially exposing the airline airline to substantial fines. However, this week the airline resolved the issue with the ACCC. Under the agreement, the company faces a civil penalty of A$100 million ($66 million) over the flight cancellation incident, pending approval from the Federal Court of Australia, as stated in a published statement.

Why legal remedies are important for passengers

Passengers need legal recourse in the event of canceled flights to safeguard their rights, ensure fair treatment and seek compensation for inconvenience and financial losses suffered. Legal remedies deter airlines from arbitrarily canceling flights, provide passengers with a means to recover their expenses, and establish a framework for resolving disputes. By holding airlines accountable and providing avenues for redress, legal remedies contribute to a fairer and more reliable air transportation system where passengers are adequately protected and supported in the event of flight disruptions.

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