Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. directed to deposit Rs Twenty five lacs as compensation in the Consumer Welfare Fund

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): NCDRC has directed Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. to deposit Rupees Twenty five lacs as compensation in the Consumer Welfare Fund of the Government of India. Said order of the Commission came upon a complaint filed by a person who booked air tickets for travelling from Delhi to Bhubneswar and Bhubneswar to Delhi on a regular / premier airline and was forced to travel on a low cost airline. It was alleged in the complaint that when the complainant reached the Airport and sought issue of the Boarding Pass of the booked Flight, he was told that Kingfisher Airlines did not operate any flight from Delhi to Bhubneswar and he was directed to take flight operated by Deccan Aviation Ltd. It was further submitted that Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. claimed to be a five-star airlines, rendering premier services to its flyers, whereas Deccan Aviation Ltd. was a Low Cost Airline and the fares on the flight of Deccan Aviation were far cheaper than the fares on the flights operated by Kingfisher Airlines. Thus, the complainant alleged that Kingfisher Airlines were indulging in unfair trade practices by booking tickets on its website and giving flight numbers of the Kingfisher Airlines but making the passengers travel in the flights operated by a Low Cost Airline, thereby, deceiving the flyers by representing to them, that they would be travelling on Kingfisher Airlines, whereas in fact, they were to travel on Deccan Airways. After perusal of material on record and hearing both the parties, NCDRC observed, “ The unfair methods and unfair or deceptive practices enumerated in Section 2(1); (r) of the Consumer Protection Act are not exhaustive, and the method and practice adopted by opposite party No.1 Kingfisher Airlines would be specifically covered in sub-clause 1(ii), since a person purchasing tickets of the flights operated by opposite party No.2 (Deccan Airways) from the website or the offices of opposite party No.1, or from the agents appointed by the opposite party No.1, is likely to believe that he will get the services, including facilities and amenities, which a regular/premier airlines provides on its flights, and it is on account of the aforesaid belief generated in his mind due to the misleading statements contained on the tickets, that he pays a price higher than the price charged by a Low Cost Airlines.” While noting that, “we do not know as to how many tickets of the flights operated by opposite party No.2 (Deccan Airways) were sold by opposite party No.1 (Kingfisher Airlines) in the aforesaid manner; it cannot be disputed that the number of such tickets must be very large.  Though, it is not known how much amount opposite party No.1 collected from the fliers in the aforesaid manner, it can be safely said it has to be huge amount,” NCDRC directed Kingfisher Airlines to deposit Rs.25,00,000/- as compensation in the Consumer Welfare Fund of the Government of India. The Commission also directed that a copy of this order must be sent to Director General, Civil Aviation and Secretary to Government of India, Department of Civil Aviation, to consider taking adequate steps to ensure that such unfair means and practices are not adopted by other Airlines operating from India. J. K. Mittal v. Kingfisher Airlines Ltd., 2015 SCC OnLine NCDRC 7, decided on April 9, 2015

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