12:52 GMT18 April 2021
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    After a brief pause, the number of coronavirus cases are rising in India again. According to Health Ministry data there have been 59,118 new cases in the past 24 hours, taking the total tally to 11.8 million. Despite a lower fatality ratio during the second wave, the total death toll has risen to 160,949 in the country.

    Because of the rising number of coronavirus cases, Indian budget airline SpiceJet has announced it will give full ticket refunds to passengers who test positive for the virus 72 hours before their flight.

    ​SpiceJet is also providing its passengers with the cheapest RT-PCR tests available in India - as low as $4 (Rs 299).

    ​The airline's promise of a refund comes as it has been hit by large losses because of the pandemic.

    SpiceJet clocked an overall loss of around $7.8 million (INR 569.6 million) between October and December 2020.

    According to the monthly traffic report by India’s aviation regulator - the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) - refund-related issues continue to make for a significant chunk of passenger complaints in the three months of 2021 .

    The DGCA data suggests ticket refunds formed 41.3 percent of the passenger complaints in January 2021 alone. In December 2020, it was 61.4 percent, in November 62.4 percent and in October 83.9 percent flyers raised refund-related issues to the regulator.

    Several passengers who missed their flights because of the lockdown last year are still waiting for their refund from several Indian airlines, The Hindustan Times reported in March this year.

    The Supreme Court of India directed airlines to refund all tickets for flights that were cancelled on account of pandemic restrictions last year until 31 March 2021. Airlines which could demonstrate financial distress got relief from the court and have been allowed to move the booking amount into a "credit shell" to be used on a flight later. However, the amount deposited in the 'credit shell' will be grown by 0.75 percent per month (9 percent per annum) after 31 March 2021.

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