Aviation regulator DGCA has imposed a fine of INR 10 lakh on Air India for denying boarding to passengers holding valid tickets and thereafter not providing mandatory compensation to them.
According to the regulator, Air India may not have a policy in this regard and does not pay compensation to the passengers.
“After that, a series of checks were carried out by DGCA and during our surveillance at Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Delhi, there were specific instances, in the case of Air India – where the regulation (regarding compensation to passengers) is not being followed and therefore, a show-cause notice was issued to the airline and also a personal hearing was afforded.
To say the least, it is a matter of serious concern and unacceptable. In the specific cases detailed in the show cause notice, after going through AI submissions, as part of enforcement action, the competent authority has levied a penalty of INR 10 lakh.”Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)
“In addition, the Airline has been advised to immediately put the systems in place to resolve the issue – failing which DGCA shall take further action,” it added.
“Our stipulations on the subject are in sync with FAA and EASA and similar regulations are followed globally to accord appropriate respect to passenger rights,” it noted.
The action came following numerous reports of flyers being denied boarding by several airlines despite having valid tickets and presenting on time. Despite guidelines on the same being in place, certain airlines were not following them, the DGCA said after conducting a series of checks at Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Delhi.
What do DGCA rules say?
As per DGCA regulations issued in 2010, when the number of passengers who have tickets for a flight and report for boarding at the airport on time is higher than the number of seats on the flight, the airline must first ask for volunteers to give up their seats in exchange for certain benefits.
In case the number of volunteers is insufficient, the airline does not need to compensate passengers who have been denied boarding, provided they are given a ticket on an alternative flight departing within one hour of the original flight’s departure.
Passengers who are denied boarding and can’t be provided with a ticket on an alternative flight departing within one hour of the original flight’s departure need to be compensated, as per DGCA rules.
The airline has to give an amount equal to 200% of the basic fare plus fuel charges in case the alternative flight is scheduled to depart within 24 hours of the original flight’s departure.
The compensation increases to 400% of the basic fare plus fuel charges if the alternative flight is scheduled to depart more than 24 hours after the original flight’s departure, as per the rules.
INR 10,000 fine if boarding is denied on a valid ticket
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on June 14 said that if a passenger holding a valid ticket is denied boarding, the airline will have to pay a compensation of up to INR 10,000 to the traveller if the airline is not able to arrange an alternate flight for the said passenger within an hour.
As part of its new guidelines, India’s aviation regulator said that in the case of denied boarding to a passenger holding a valid ticket and having presented on time, airlines will have to pay a compensation of INR 10,000, if an alternate arrangement is made by the airline within next 24 hours.
However, for anything beyond 24 hours, compensation up to INR 20,000 is laid down, the DGCA said.
The move by the aviation watchdog comes after it carried out a series of checks at Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Delhi airports and found specific instances where passengers were denied boarding by Air India.
“A show-cause notice was issued to the Airline (Air India) and also a personal hearing was afforded,” the DGCA said in a press release. The DGCA added that Air India until now did not have a specific policy for passengers being denied boarding.
“It appears that the Airline (Air India) does not have a policy in this regard and is not paying any compensation to hapless passengers, whose numbers can be anybody’s guess,” the DGCA said.