Aviation regulator DGCA on Saturday, May 28 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.
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.
The regulator said 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.
Moreover, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said the new regulations would make sure that there is also a written consultation with the captain of the aircraft for his or her opinion on allowing such a passenger on board.
The DGCA had on May 9 formed a three-member team to investigate the May 7 incident. The regulator on Saturday, May 28 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.”
More compassionate handling would have smoothened nerves, calmed the child and obviated the need for the extreme step resulting in the passengers being denied boarding.
Special situations deserve extraordinary responses but the airline’s staff failed to rise to the occasion, and in the process, committed lapses in adherence to the letter and spirit of the Civil Aviation Requirements (regulations), it noted.
The DGCA has also suggested that airlines should revisit their standard operating procedures (SOPs) and training processes to handle such cases and to bring a more humane touch.
Given this, the competent authority in the DGCA has decided to impose a penalty of INR 5 lakh on the airline under the provisions of the relevant aircraft rules, it mentioned.
The three-member team’s preliminary findings had on May 16 found IndiGo to violate its regulations, and therefore, the airline was issued a show-cause notice.
To ensure justice, the regulator conducted a personal hearing and allowed the parties to give their written submissions on this incident.
After following the “due process of law”, the DGCA decided to impose an INR 5 lakh fine on the carrier. 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.