The Ministry of Finance has advised government employees to book air tickets for official meetings or (travel allowance) at least 21 days in advance. Additionally, they will not be eligible for mileage points for traveling on government accounts.
Since government and government employees are one of the largest consumers of airlines, these instructions are important.
“Employees are encouraged to book airfare at least 21 days prior to scheduled travel on tour and LTC, to receive the most competitive rates and minimize treasury burden. Reservations can be made even though approval of the tour schedule is still pending,” said a memorandum from the office amending instructions for booking air tickets on behalf of the government. Normally, airlines offer discounted tickets for booking in advance, say 21 days or 30 days before the date of travel.
After the privatization of Air India, the government decided that in all cases of air travel where the Center bears the cost of air passage, air tickets will be purchased only from the three authorized travel agents – Balmer Lawrie & Company Ltd (BLCL), Ashok Travels & Tours (ATT) and Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd. (IRCTC), no agency fees/convenience fees will be paid to these three booking agencies.
Employees should choose flights with the best available fare on their authorized class of travel, which is the cheapest fare available, preferably for nonstop flights in a given slot at the time of booking. Each slot will have a three-hour time slot. The instructions further state that employees are also encouraged to avoid unnecessary cancellations. Cancellations made less than 24 hours before the scheduled trip will require the presentation of a self-declared justification by the employee.
Employees should preferably book a single ticket for each leg of the planned journey. Possession of more than one ticket is not permitted. However, in case of special requirements or exceptional circumstances, a maximum of two tickets for the alternative flights for different time slots can be booked for the same leg of travel, with the self-declared justification for the same. All employees were also asked to submit a certification/undertaking within 72 hours of the end of the trip. This will ensure timely payment of airfare to travel agents.
The ministry also said that all ministries/departments must settle their dues on the air ticket account to the relevant travel agent within a maximum period of 30 days from the end of the trip. Ministries/departments must clear all previous outstanding dues to travel agents by August 31, 2022. “No mileage points will be generated for travel on government account,” OM said, while adding that all Ministries/departments are required to ensure strict compliance with the order.
June 17, 2022