An Air India Express Boeing 737-800 aircraft Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: UAE-based passengers have slammed Indian carrier Air India Express for offering a fee waiver due to Covid-19 related travel issues only for fresh bookings.

The budget airline of India’s national carrier Air India on Wednesday announced that it will allow date changes free of charge for those who book tickets from Thursday, March 12.

“In view of the uncertain travel situation due to Covid-19, free date change will be permitted up to three days prior to the flight departure for all new bookings effected between March 12 and March 31 for travel up to April 30,” the airline said.

Air India Express notification on waivers during coronavirus
Air India Express notification on waivers during coronavirus Image Credit: Supplied

This has resulted in passengers who had booked their tickets before the novel Coronavirus hit the aviation industry and subsequent travel advisories.

“Who is going to book tickets now. Everyone is cancelling their trips or changing dates,” said Manikandan Govindarajulu, a sales manager who had booked tickets for his wife and two children.

“I had booked on February 24. That time, the situation was not this bad. We have decided not to go now and I thought I can rebook for some other time without penalties. I was told I have to pay almost 50 percent of the fares as penalties. This is not acceptable when all other airlines are supporting passengers in the current pandemic situation.”

Another passenger, who did not wish to be named, said: “This airline is already late in announcing a waiver while most others have announced it and now it says the waiver is effective for bookings done from Thursday.”

“This is ridiculous. Those who had booked earlier had no idea about this and those who are booking now are knowingly taking the risk. Who deserves the waiver? Also how can a person who books on Thursday change the date of travel three days prior to the travel date? Even Air India has announced date change fee waiver for previously booked passengers. How come Air India Express do this? The Indian government should ask them to change this waiver policy,” he said.

Gulf News did not get immediate response from Air India Express.