India: Airlines cannot deny boarding to specially-abled passengers, says DGCA

In case a flight must refuse a flyer, they have to justify it in writing


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Published: Fri 22 Jul 2022, 2:12 PM

If an airline feels a disabled passenger's health is likely to deteriorate during a flight, it must consult a doctor at the airport and take an "appropriate decision" on whether boarding should be denied to the flyer or not, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said on Friday.

The aviation authority's statement also says that if the airline decided to deny boarding to a disabled passenger, it would have to immediately justify this to the passenger, in writing.

The regulator had proposed the aforementioned regulations on June 3, six days after it had imposed a fine of Rs500,000 on IndiGo for denying boarding to a disabled boy at the Ranchi airport on May 7.

On May 9, IndiGo explained that the boy was denied permission to board the Ranchi-Hyderabad flight because he was visibly in panic. After the boy was prohibited from boarding, his parents also decided not to enter.

The DGCA had asked the public to send their comments on the proposed amendments by July 2.

In Friday's statement, the DGCA also said that it had amended its regulations to improve the accessibility of boarding and flying for disabled people.

The amended regulations stated that the airline must not refuse boarding to any passengers on the basis of disability 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 amended regulations mentioned.

After obtaining a medical opinion, the airline would take an appropriate decision on the carriage of such passengers.

IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta had, on May 9, expressed regret over the May 7 incident, and offered to buy an electric wheelchair for the boy.

Yet, Dutta maintained that the airline staff took the best possible decision under difficult circumstances.

Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia had, on May 9, gone on Twitter to say how no human being ought to go through this, as well as the fact that he was investigating the Ranchi incident himself.


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