Unreasonable delays in flight take-offs amount to deficiency in an airline’s service, the Mumbai consumer court has ruled.
The Central Mumbai Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum in its October 30 order asked Air France to pay a hefty compensation to a city-based couple for cancelling a flight without prior intimation to flyers and for delaying the subsequent flight by three hours.
The bench, comprising Forum president Nalin Majithia and member Bhavana Pisal, ordered the airline to pay Rs 1.11 lakh to Khar resident Dr Ajay Kothari and his wife Dr Gopa Kothari, which covers the cost of their tickets. The elderly couple will also get Rs 30,000 as compensation and Rs 5,000 towards the cost of the litigation.
The incident took place on May 11, 2009, when the Kotharis were scheduled to fly from Mumbai to Naples via Paris and had booked a frequent flier ticket.
However, when the couple reached the airport, they were informed that the flight had been cancelled, and that they will be accommodated in the next flight, which was scheduled to take off a day later.
The next day, when the Kotharis reached the airport, they discovered that the flight was delayed by three hours. As a result of the delay, they missed their connecting flight from Paris and were forced to spend nearly 10 hours for the next flight to Naples.
The senior citizens alleged that the airline did not provide them food or accommodation during this transit wait.
On December 4, 2009, the Kotharis moved the consumer court seeking compensation as specified under international norms.
In court, the airline argued that the flight was cancelled owing to technical reasons that were beyond its control. The airline also contended that the under European Union Council Regulations, under which the compensation case had been filed, were not applicable in India.
The Forum, however, pointed out that the airline had a full day ahead of the cancelled flight to intimate its passengers but did not bother to do so. The bench also considered that Air France did not submit any documents to support its contention that the plane had experienced a technical problem that forced it to cancel one flight and delay the next one by three hours.
The airline has one month’s time to pay the total amount of Rs 1.46 lakh to the Khar residents.
The Air France spokesperson said they did not want to comment on the ruling as they are yet to get a copy of the order.