As the news that private airlines have decided to suspend operations on August 18 spread on Friday evening, calls from harried passengers inundated airlines, travel agents and travel websites’ offices.
In a bid to pressure the government for a bailout package, most private airlines have declared suspension of their flight operations on August 18.
“This is absolutely incorrect and unfair. The airlines can’t form cartels to hold passengers to ransom,” said Pankaj Aggarwal, chartered accountant and a resident of Safdarjung Enclave.
A Jet Airways spokeswoman, however, said, “We will provide full refund to passengers and they can also block tickets on another day’s flight.”
But Sudhakar Reddy, president of Air Passengers’ Association of India (APAI), said, “We have appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to invoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act to take punitive actions.”
Reddy said, “Running an airline is a business, and you can’t always make profit. This doesn’t mean you can blackmail the government.”
Rajji Rai, president of the Travel Agents Association of India, supported the airlines’ cause, saying, “Passengers will face inconvenience for a day, but if the airlines do not get their problems sorted out now, they will have to close down.”