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CCPA Takes Action Against Yatra on Non-Refund of COVID-19 Cancelled Air Tickets

New Delhi: The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has taken significant steps to address grievances related to the non-refund of cancelled air tickets due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

In the landmark judgment of Pravasi Legal Cell vs Union of India, the Supreme Court directed, “If the tickets have been booked during the lockdown period through a travel agent for travel within the lockdown period, in all such cases full refund shall be given by the airlines immediately. On such refund, the amount shall be passed on immediately by the agent to the passengers.”

Following this directive, the CCPA initiated suo-moto action against Yatra regarding the non-refund of airline tickets cancelled due to the COVID-19 lockdown. A Show Cause Notice was sent to Yatra on March 9, 2021, regarding the pending refunds of bookings affected by the lockdown. The CCPA conducted several hearings and closely monitored the progress of refunds made to consumers.

From July 8, 2021, to June 25, 2024, the CCPA held multiple hearings to resolve these issues. As a result, Yatra Online Limited significantly reduced the number of pending refund bookings. In 2021, there were 36,276 pending bookings amounting to ₹26,25,82,484. By June 21, 2024, this number had been reduced to 4,837 bookings, amounting to ₹2,52,87,098. Yatra has refunded approximately 87% of the total amount to consumers and is committed to refunding the remaining 13% promptly and efficiently.

In 2021, there were 5,771 airline-related bookings pending for refunds, amounting to ₹9,60,14,463. By 2024, Yatra had reduced this number to 98 bookings with an outstanding amount of ₹31,79,069. The CCPA, in its order dated June 27, 2024, directed 22 remaining airlines associated with Yatra to expedite the refund of ₹31,79,069 to consumers.

Other travel platforms like MakeMyTrip, EaseMyTrip, ClearTrip, Ixigo, and Thomas Cook have refunded the entire amount to consumers whose tickets were affected by the COVID-19 lockdown during the proceedings before CCPA.

To facilitate timely processing of refunds, the CCPA issued an order on June 27, 2024, directing Yatra to set up dedicated arrangements at the National Consumer Helpline (NCH). Yatra is required to allocate five exclusive seats at NCH to make calls to the remaining 4,837 passengers, informing them that their pending refunds due to COVID-19 lockdown-related flight cancellations will be processed. The costs for these dedicated personnel will be fully covered by Yatra, with payments made directly to the agency managed by NCH.

The CCPA’s order reinforces the importance of timely refunds, and Yatra is directed to adhere to this directive to ensure complete resolution for all pending bookings.

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