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Jet Airways flyers grapple with late refunds, soaring airfares

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Passengers are facing delays in receiving refunds for cancelled flights and are forced to shell out 25-30 per cent more for alternate flights, following the grounding of Jet planes.


Jet is operating around 40 flights with seven aircraft for the last few days due a cash crunch. It has cancelled all its international services till Thursday and future operations look uncertain as lenders have not released emergency funds.



The sudden massive cancellations have put travel agents and customers in jeopardy. Agents have approached International Air Transport Association or IATA for protection of their commission and refunds while passengers are asking agents to cancel Jet tickets for later dates, given the uncertainty of operations.


When an airline cancels a flight, it offers affected passengers an alternate flight on another carrier or a refund. Jet’s commercial partners, Air France and KLM, are operating two additional flights and higher capacity aircraft from Paris and Amsterdam to Mumbai this week to fly stranded passengers. These largely include passengers holding an Air France issued ticket on a Jet operated flight. But the most impacted passengers of Jet are being offered a refund.


Travel agents claim full or partial refunds through IATA’s billing and settlement mechanism. Agents are particularly facing delays claiming a refund for partially utilised tickets. For example, if a passenger travelled from Mumbai to London but the return flight was cancelled by the airline, a partial refund is paid. The refund amount in such cases is worked out on the basis of applicable fares and is credited only upon scrutiny by the airline. “Till last week, we received refunds but now there is a doubt whether we will receive claims made from April 8,” said Rajat Bagaria, joint secretary of Travel Agents’ Federation of India.


Agents are worried whether the airline will be able to process refunds as its sales have dwindled. A travel agent from Delhi claimed that around Rs 15 lakh refund amount is pending and he is finding difficult to pay his customers. “We have provided full refund to Jet passengers whose flights have been cancelled,” said John Nair, head– business travel, Cox & Kings. MakeMyTrip is issuing Jet tickets only for three days beyond the booking date. “We are aware of the situation and are monitoring it closely to provide meaningful customer support to ensure minimum hassle for flyers. With Jet curtailing operations, we are currently offering its flight options for travel only up to the next three days,” said a company spokesperson.


Jet, however, said there was no delay in processing refunds. “Jet would like to clarify that your observation regarding delay in processing of partially-utilised tickets is speculative and incorrect. Processing of refunds, after initiation is an automated process that is governed by a centralised, global settlement system which includes the issuing bank, airline and IATA,” the airline said. Jet said it continued its efforts to minimise guest inconvenience using its contact centre, social media and guest relations teams and refunds continue to be processed.


Meanwhile, passengers are also facing the pinch due to reduction in capacity and some are seeking cancellations of future bookings. “We are receiving requests from our clients to cancel Jet Airways ticket of later dates because of uncertainty of operations,” said Bagaria.


“Fares on key routes like Mumbai-Delhi or to Europe have risen 25-50 per cent and this could impact travel demand in summer,” said Sanjay Narula, vice-president of Travel Agents Association of India.



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Adani arm acquires defence electronics and avionics firm Alpha Design

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Adani Enterprises said on Saturday its subsidiary, Adani Defence Systems and Technologies, has acquired Alpha Design Technologies.


“Adani Defence Systems and Technologies — a wholly owned subsidiary of the firm — has acquired the control of Alpha Design Technologies,” Adani Enterprises said in a BSE filing.



The company did not reveal the deal value.


The acquired firm provides Adani Defence and Aerospace a strong tier-1 capability for building a base for graduating to platform capabilities, the filing said.


Alpha Design was established in 2003 for the design, development and manufacture of defence electronics and avionics.


Its key business areas includes, defence electronics, avionics, aero-structure assemblies, space and satellite systems and simulators among others.


The consolidated turnover of Alpha Design Technologies in 2017-18 was Rs 218 crore, Rs 210 crore in 2016-17 and Rs 419 crore in 2015-16.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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TikTok ban likely to shadow FDI plans of tech firms, says IAMAI

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Reacting sharply to the nationwide ban on short video messaging app TikTok, industry body Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) said that the ban might affect future plans of companies to invest in India.


In a statement it said the move would impede FDI in digital if intermediaries were to be banned quite arbitrarily by the courts in the country. While not naming TikTok, the association said that it was responding to the recent ban by the MeiTY on the order of a High Court.



The association was of the view that such bans dilutes the safe harbour provisions currently contained in the IT Act and its Rules and make it impossible for them to operate in the country.


“Especially affected would be the so called social media platforms which allow citizens to express themselves. Content moderation on user generated content platforms has been a problem about which the platforms themselves are keenly aware and have taken effective measures in recent months to curb the excesses. The Code of Ethics adopted by all social media platforms with the Election Commission is a case in the point,” IAMAI said.


It further said that in this particular instance, the complainant should have approached the government for redressal first before approaching the courts and the court should have ideally asked the platform to remove the “offending content” than ban the entire app.


According to IAMAI, dilution of the Safe Harbour protection available to intermediaries/social media platforms undermines the steady growth of India’s digital economy. This especially impacts the thriving startup ecosystem in the country.


“Content moderation on user-generated platforms is an industry-wide challenge that our members take very seriously, and are constantly addressing with ever-improving mechanisms along with enhanced safety features such as increased privacy settings, in-app reporting, comments filter, content filter for younger users, in-app access to Community Guidelines, online safety resources and more,” IAMAI said.



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Jet Airways CEO asks govt for Rs 175 crore to pay one-month salary to staff

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Jet Airways management has asked the government to release Rs 175 crore to pay one-month of salary to its staff. The airline also asked to retain prime airport slots to retain value for new investor.


A team of employee representatives led by CEO Vinay Dube and Deputy CEO Amit Agarwal later in the evening met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and requested for Rs 175 crore, which would be used to pay one month salary to the employees.



“We requested for funds to pay at least one month’s salary and that will give hope to employees,” Jet Airways CEO Vinay Dube told Business Standard.


However, Jaitley did not promise anything and said that he would forward the request to banks.


Civil Aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola was also a part of the team.


The airline shut operations on April 17 as banks refused to release emergency funding of Rs 400 crore.


The lenders consortium refused to release money as they felt they don’t have enough collateral to extend further credit.


Asim Valiani, Vice President, National Aviator’s Guild, who was part of the team, said that airline’s asset, like the Boeing 777 planes, can be kept as collateral to release the amount. ” With that one month salary can be paid to the employees,” Valiani said.


Jet Airways has defaulted on a loan of EXIM bank through which the aircraft were bought. This is the reason why Indian banks are unable to treat the planes as collateral.


Valiani said they also requested to protect prime airport slots of Jet Airways to give confidence to new investor that operations can be resumed immediately.


ALSO READ: Jet staff seek President’s intervention for salary dues, funds to airline


The government has started distributing Jet Airways slots temporarily to other airlines. Jet will have the right to retain these slots if it can resume operations in six months.


“Banks were unable to release emergency funds we had sought. But right now it’s important to pay the salary of the employees and protect airport slots to create value for the new investor and also for the banks,” Dube said.


Dube said that the bank’s had their own reasons and rules due to which they couldn’t release money.


“Banks have their own commitments and consideration when asked about why banks did not agree on release of loans earlier. Let’s focus on future and not on past, ” he said.


ALSO READ: Bankers weigh all options to save Jet Airways without getting hit


The employee members also asked to expedite the sale process. “We were told that there were serious bidders,” Dube said.


ALSO READ: Flew too high? Jet’s Goyal through the eyes of those who worked with him


SBI led consortium has called for bids for up to 75 per cent of the company. However, with the Supreme Court striking down a key circular which had allowed banks to convert the airline’s debt into equity, there is uncertainty how much of the stake can actually be sold.



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