Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) on Saturday urged the civil aviation ministry to direct International Air Transport Association (IATA) to ensure that all refunds are processed in cash by the bankrupt Italian airline Alitalia.
The refunds are being processed without placing Alitalia under suspension as per the IATA-BSP rule amid reports that Italy's new state-backed airline, Italia Trasporto Aereo SpA will seek to buy the Alitalia name for its start of service in mid-October.
The 74-year-old Italian airline Alitalia announced it will cease to fly from October 15 as it goes bankrupt formally and goes for liquidation.
BSP is a system designed to facilitate and simplify the selling, reporting and remitting procedures of IATA Accredited Passenger Sales Agents, as well as improve financial control and cash flow for BSP Airlines.
No credit note shall be acceptable and all refunds should be refunded back in cash to the bank accounts of accredited member agents immediately. Taking prompt cognisance of the issue, TAAI is in touch with the highest echelons in the government of India to protect the interest of Indian travel agent's fraternity and stakeholders dealing directly and indirectly with the airline, TAAI president Jyoti Mayal said.
According to estimates there were around 250,000 people who were due to fly with Alitalia after October 15 but how many of them are Indians are not known yet, travel agent officials said.
IATA has been requested to ensure that sufficient financial corpus is held in escrow from the airline until all outstandings with accredited member agencies and travellers are settled by Alitalia.
"This must be strictly ensured and no payouts to the airline through BSP should be effected since only refunds shall be transacted. The outstanding from the airline is expected to be in crores of Rupees, TAAI secretary general Bettaiah Lokesh said.
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