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

Aviation regulator DGCA Monday, May 16 said it has issued a showcause notice to IndiGo after a fact-finding committee found the airline staff prima facie violated regulations in denying boarding to a specially-abled child at the Ranchi airport on May 7.

The airline had on May 9 said the boy was denied boarding as he was “visibly in panic”. As the boy was prohibited from boarding the Ranchi-Hyderabad flight, his parents — who were accompanying him — also decided not to enter the plane.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation had constituted a fact-finding committee to probe the matter. “The committee has submitted its report,” the DGCA said in a statement on Monday, May 16.

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

The proceedings of the committee were partly held in the open and partly in-camera as per the request of the affected family, it said.

“The findings of the committee prima facie indicate inappropriate handling of passengers by the Indigo staff thereby resulting in certain non-conformances with the applicable regulations,” it mentioned.

Given this, it has been decided to issue a showcause notice to the airline through its authorised representative to explain why suitable enforcement action should not be taken against them for the non-conformances, it said.

“To meet the ends of justice, the airline has been provided with an opportunity for a personal hearing as well as for making written submissions in the next ten days from today i.e. till May 26, 2022. After hearing their submissions, appropriate action as per law would be taken,” it added.

IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta had expressed regret over the incident and offered to buy an electric wheelchair for the specially-abled child.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had last week formed a three-member team to conduct a “fact-finding enquiry” into IndiGo recently barring a specially-abled child from boarding a flight at the Ranchi airport as he was in a “state of panic”.

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

Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said on Twitter that no human being should have to go through this and he is investigating the Ranchi incident. The incident came to light after other passengers highlighted it on social media.

In a statement, Dutta said, “We recognise too well that parents who dedicate their lives to the caring of physically-challenged persons are the true heroes of our society.

Dutta said, “Having reviewed all aspects of this incident, we as an organisation are of the view that we made the best possible decision under difficult circumstances.”

“Throughout the check-in and boarding process, our intent of course was to carry the family. However, at the boarding area, the teenager was visibly in panic,” he added. “All of us at IndiGo are truly distressed by this particular incident,” he said.

Statement by IndiGo’s CEO Ronojoy Jutta

Since April, the airline has carried over 75,000 specially-abled passengers on its flights and its crew and airport staff are trained to serve such passengers sensitively, Dutta added.

According to DGCA regulations issued in 2017, passengers who are likely to be unruly and disruptive must be carefully monitored and if deemed to pose a threat to the safety and security of a flight, fellow passengers or the staff on board the plane, they should be refused embarkation.

“Airline shall establish a mechanism to detect and report unruly passenger behaviour at check-in, in the lounges and at the boarding gate to prevent such passengers from boarding,” the regulations said.

IndiGo’s statement had not gone down well with the public and the authorities.

In a statement issued, IndiGo said in “view of the safety of passengers, a specially-abled child could not board the flight with his family on May 7, as he was in a state of panic”. The ground staff waited for him to calm down till the last minute but to no avail, it added.

The airline made the family comfortable by putting them up in a hotel and they flew the next morning to their destination, it said.

IndiGo’s statement had not gone down well with the public and the authorities. The public furore had led to the Union aviation minister tweeting, “There is zero tolerance towards such behaviour. No human being should have to go through this! Investigating the matter by myself, post which appropriate action will be taken.”

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