Two months after a maiden policy to empower air passengers to seek compensation came into effect, the Air Passengers Association of India (APAI), a body formed by the air travellers, said that the rule is ineffective.
The civil aviation ministry data issued on Monday shows that in October airlines gave away cash compensation worth Rs 6.41 lakh to more than 4,000 passengers for last minute flight cancellations and another Rs 16.10 lakh to 726 flyers denied boarding. More than 27,000 passengers were affected by delays. Airlines gave them full refunds, according to the data.
However, the passenger body alleged that the policy has too many loopholes, which are being misused by airlines to give compensation. “We’ve come across many cases where airlines have completed boarding as per schedule and made passengers wait inside the aircraft for hours. By doing that they show that boarding was on time and blame the air traffic control for the delay while the hold up could be at their end,” said Sudhakar Reddy, national president, APAI.
The policy says airlines need not pay compensation for delays caused by air congestion, natural calamities. Last month’s passenger complaint data does not reflect the problems faced by Air India passengers. For the second time since the aviation regulator made it mandatory for domestic carriers to submit data on flight delays and compensation paid by airlines, the AI has failed to submit the data. “The country saw the nightmarish experience of AI travellers at Delhi’s T-3 terminal. How can the ministry spare them?” asked Reddy. Ministry spokesperson Maushumi Chakravarthy and DGCA chief, Nasim Zaidi, did not comment.