Airlines cannot refuse to fly differently abled persons, says DGCA after IndiGo row

Following a huge row after IndiGo did not allow a special needs child to board its flight, the DGCA has amended its rules to improve the accessibility of boarding and flying for differently abled people.

Airline shall not refuse carriage of any person on the basis of disability, the DGCA has said.

Following a huge controversy after an airline refused to board a special needs child, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has amended its rules to improve the accessibility of boarding and flying for differently abled people.

“Airline shall not refuse carriage of any person on the basis of disability and/or reduced mobility. However, in case, an airline perceives that the health of such a passenger may deteriorate in-flight, the said passenger will have to be examined by a Doctor in person – who shall in his/her opinion, categorically state the medical condition and whether the passenger is fit to fly or not,” the DGCA said.

After obtaining the medical opinion, it is up to the airline whether or not to allow carriage to the differently-abled passenger. However, in case of a refusal, the airline must immediately inform the passenger of its decision in writing and also list the reasons for denying carriage.

The new rule comes in the wake of a massive row over Indian carrier IndiGo’s decision to bar a differently abled child from boarding a flight at Ranchi airport in May this year. The incident came to light after an eye-witness account of the incident went viral on social media.

WATCH | ‘Regret it, but best possible decision’: IndiGo CEO on barring specially-abled teen from boarding

Later that month, after probing the matter, the DGCA imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on IndiGo for failing to adequately handle the case at Ranchi airport. The committee which conducted the probe stated in its report that Indigo staff’s handling of the passengers was inappropriate, resulting in certain non-conformances with the applicable regulations.

In a statement, the DGCA had said, “It has been observed that the handling of the special child by the Indigo ground staff was deficient and ended up exacerbating the situation. A more compassionate handling would have smoothened the nerves, calmed the child and would have obviated the need for the extreme step resulting in denied boarding to the passengers.”

“Special situations deserve extraordinary responses but the Airline staff failed to rise up to the occasion and in the process committed lapses in adherence to the letter and spirit of the Civil Aviation Requirements (Regulations).”

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