IndiGo fined Rs 5 lakh for denying boarding to differently abled child
Aviation regulator DGCA on Saturday said it had imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on IndiGo for denying boarding to a differently abled child at Ranchi airport on May 7.
IndiGo had on May 9 said the boy was not allowed into the Ranchi-Hyderabad flight as he was visibly in panic. After the boy was stopped, his parents too decided not to board the plane.
The DGCA said that to avoid such situations in future, it would revisit its own 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.
The DGCA said the new regulations would make sure that there was also a written consultation with the captain of the aircraft for his or her opinion on allowing such a passenger on board.
This is perhaps the first time the regulator has imposed a fine on an airline after the Aircraft Amendment Act, 2020, empowered it to levy fines without approaching a civil court.
The DGCA had on May 9 formed a three-member team to investigate the May 7 incident.
The regulator said on Saturday: “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 approach would have smoothened nerves, calmed the child and obviated the need for the extreme step resulting in the passengers being denied boarding, the DGCA noted.
Special situations deserve extraordinary responses but the airline’s staff failed to rise to the occasion, and in the process committed lapses in adhering to the letter and spirit of the Civil Aviation Requirements, it said.
The DGCA said the competent authority within the organisation had decided to impose a penalty of Rs 5 lakh on IndiGo under provisions of the relevant aircraft rules.
The three-member team’s preliminary probe had on May 16 found IndiGo to be in violation of DGCA regulations and issued a showcause notice to the airline.
The regulator conducted a personal hearing and allowed the parties to give their written submissions on the incident. After following the “due process of law”, the DGCA decided to penalise the carrier.
IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta had on May 9 expressed regret at the incident and offered to buy an electric wheelchair for the specially abled child. Dutta had said the airline staff had taken the best possible decision under difficult circumstances.