DGCA amends rules; airlines can no longer deny boarding to any person with disability

If an airline feels a specially-abled passenger’s health is likely to deteriorate during a flight, it must consult a doctor at the airport and take an “appropriate call” on whether boarding should be denied to the flyer or not, the draft rules issued by the DGCA said on Friday, June 3.

The proposal to issue new rules has come just six days after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said it has imposed a fine of INR 5 lakh on IndiGo airline for denying boarding to a specially-abled child at Ranchi airport on May 7.

ALSO READ – IndiGo penalised INR 5 lakh for refusing to board a specially-abled child

IndiGo had on May 9 said the boy was denied permission to board the Ranchi-Hyderabad flight as he was visibly in panic.

IndiGo had on May 9 said the boy was denied permission to board the Ranchi-Hyderabad flight as he was visibly in panic. After the boy was prohibited from boarding, his parents also decided not to enter the plane.

ALSO READ – DGCA finds Indigo at fault after not allowing specially-abled child onboard

The regulator had on May 28 said that to avoid such situations in the future, it would revisit its regulations, making it mandatory for airlines to take the airport doctor’s written opinion on the health of a passenger before deciding to deny boarding.

“Airline shall not refuse carriage of any person based on disability. 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 who shall categorically state the medical condition and whether the passenger is fit to fly or not. After obtaining the medical opinion, the airline shall take the appropriate call.”

DGCA

The current clause on a standalone basis says that airlines can refuse carriage to any person on basis of disability if it opined that “transportation of such persons would or might be inimical to the safety of flight”. In such a case, airlines are bound to specify in writing the basis of such refusal.

The regulator has asked the public to send in their comments about the draft rules by July 2, after which it will issue the final rules.

DGCA amends rules; airlines can no longer deny boarding to any person with a disability

IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta had on May 9 expressed regret over the incident and offered to buy an electric wheelchair for the specially-abled child. Dutta had said the airline staff took the best possible decision under difficult circumstances.

Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia had on May 9 said on Twitter that no human being should have to go through this and he was investigating the Ranchi incident.

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