The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has directed online travel aggregator (OTA) Yatra to disburse pending refunds to over 4,800 passengers whose flights were cancelled due to Covid lockdown. It noted that about ₹2.52 crore worth of booking refunds were pending.

“CCPA issued an order on 27.06.2024 wherein it has directed Yatra to set up dedicated arrangements at the National Consumer Helpline (NCH). Specifically, Yatra is required to allocate five exclusive seats at NCH for making calls to 4,837 passengers, informing them that their pending refunds due to COVID-19 lockdown-related flight cancellations will be processed. The costs incurred for engaging these five dedicated personnel will be fully covered by Yatra with payments made directly to the agency managed by NCH,” a statement on Tuesday said.

CCPA had taken suo motu action against OTAs, including Yatra, in this regard in 2021. It issued showcause notice to Yatra in March 2021 on the pendency of the booking refunds. CCPA then conducted several hearings of the company and closely monitored the progress of refunds made to consumers, it added.

“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 ₹26,25,82,484. As of June 21, 2024, this number has been significantly reduced to 4,837 bookings, amounting to ₹2,52,87,098,” the official statement added.

It noted that Yatra has refunded about 87 per cent of the pending amount.

CCPA has also directed airlines to refund customers for flight cancellations during Covid lockdown. “In 2021, there were total 5,771 bookings, pertaining to airlines, pending for refunds amounting to ₹9,60,14,463. By 2024, Yatra has reduced the pendency of airlines to 98 bookings with an outstanding amount of ₹31,79,069. CCPA vide order dated 27.06.2024 directed 22 remaining airlines of Yatra to expeditiously refund ₹31,79,069 to consumers,” the statement added.

CCPA noted that several other travel platforms like MakeMyTrip, EaseMyTrip, ClearTrip, Ixigo and Thomas Cook have refunded consumers for ticket cancellations during Covid-19 lockdown.