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CCPA orders Yatra to refund booking amounts affected by COVID lockdown

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Yatra

The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has directed ‘Yatra’, an online travel platform, to refund booking amounts to consumers affected by to COVID-19 lockdown.

“Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) through National Consumer Helpline (1915-toll free number) that many grievances were lodged relating to non-refund of cancelled air tickets on account of COVID-19 lockdown wherein the consumers had alleged that the travel agencies informed them that refunds have not been received from the airlines etc,” Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution stated.

The Apex Court in its decision in Pravasi Legal Cell vs Union of India (W.P.(C)D.No.10966 of 2020) dated 01.10.2020 had directed that “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”.

In light of the above, the CCPA initiated suo-moto action against Yatra regarding the non-refund of airline tickets cancelled due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

From July 8, 2021, to June 25, 2024, the CCPA conducted several hearings to address these issues, the Ministry said.

“As a result of these efforts, Yatra Online Limited has made significant progress in reducing the total number of pending refund bookings. In 2021, there were 36,276 pending bookings amounting to INR 26,25,82,484. As of June 21, 2024, this number has been significantly reduced to 4,837 bookings, amounting to INR 2,52,87,098. Yatra has refunded approximately 87 per cent amount to consumers and further endeavours to refund approximately 13 per cent amount to consumers in order to ensure that all pending refunds are processed promptly and efficiently by airlines,” it added.

The Ministry further stated that in 2021, there were a total of 5,771 bookings pertaining to airlines pending for refunds amounting to INR 9,60,14,463. By 2024, Yatra has reduced the pendency of airlines to 98 bookings with an outstanding amount of INR 31,79,069. CCPA vide order dated 27.06.2024 directed 22 remaining airlines of Yatra to expeditiously refund INR 31,79,069 to consumers.

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

Source: ANI