IndiGo to refund all passengers for canceled flights by January-end
Budget flier IndiGo on Monday committed to refunding all customer credit shells created by cancellations due to COVID-19 by January 31, 2021. The airline said it has already processed close to Rs. 1,000 crore of refunds, adding that the same amounted to roughly 90% of what its customers were owed. Earlier this year, domestic and international flights were suspended amid the COVID-19 lockdown.
In a statement, IndiGo Chief Executive Officer Ronojoy Dutta said the airline's operations were suddenly brought to a halt due to the coronavirus outbreak and the resulting lockdown, which was enforced in late-March. Dutta said that they could not immediately process refunds for canceled flights as their incoming cash flow had dried up. Hence, they had to create credit shells.
With the resumption of airline operations and a steady increase in the demand for air travel, IndiGo's priority has been to refund the credit shell amounts in an expedited manner, Dutta said. "We are pleased to commit that we will disburse the full 100% credit shell payments latest by January 31, 2021," he said adding that roughly Rs. 1,000 crore has already been paid.
In March, India had suspended all international commercial flights, and shortly thereafter, ordered the suspension of domestic air travel. Restricted domestic flight operations were allowed on May 25 and the services have gradually returned to normalcy with COVID-19 appropriate behavior. However, scheduled international passenger flights continue to remain suspended and only special international flights—under Vande Bharat Mission and air bubble pacts—are allowed.
Credit rating agency ICRA Limited said last week that Indian airlines will post net losses of about Rs. 21,000 crore during the fiscal year 2020-2021. The airlines would require additional fundings to the tune of Rs. 37,000 crore over fiscal years 2021 to 2023 recover from losses and debt, the agency said, maintaining a negative credit outlook on the Indian airline industry.