Compensation for flight delays, cancellations may be hiked up to Rs20,000

 The civil aviation ministry has recommended increasing compensation to up to as much as Rs20,000 per flyer for problems in airline services such as flight delays and cancellations.

Reports say the ministry will soon put up online the draft of a passenger charter containing the proposals for comments from interested parties before the final rules are issued.
According to The Times of India, the airlines are against the suggestions on the grounds that domestic airfares in India are among the lowest globally. They have warned it will lead to fare hikes as they will be “forced” to pass on the cost to passengers.
The draft of proposed fines sent to the airlines stipulates full refund or free hotel accommodation for long delays, flyers being allowed to alight from planes in case of an over two-hour delay on tarmac, and ‘auctions’ to allow people take a later flight in case of overbooking.
The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), an umbrella body of Jet Airways, IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir, recently wrote to the ministry, saying, “In our opinion the existing rules and compensation levels already safeguard passenger interests in a fair and adequate manner.
“Making these more stringent and / or increasing the compensation levels will only result in an increase in costs for airlines which will impact their viability and result in an increase in airfares for the travelling public as airlines will have no option but to pass on such costs to their passengers.”
Airlines point to the severe infrastructure crunch at big airports and have reasoned that several delays take place because of this.
“Delays and cancellations are many a time a function /consequence of infrastructure constraints — in terminals, at airside and also due to air navigation (ATC) constraints and weather, all of which are not in the control of the airlines … the impact of more stringent rules and increased compensation will be greatly multiplied. We therefore suggest that the proposed changes be dropped and are of the opinion that the existing rules which are more than adequate to safeguard passenger interests be continued without any changes,” according to FIA.
The government says it will take a balanced view which protects consumer rights while not being punitive for the industry either.