Disability not a bar for boarding, says DGCA
Civil aviation regulator DGCA on Friday said airlines should not refuse boarding to any person because of disability or reduced mobility.
The change in rules comes nearly two months after IndiGo officials barred a specially-abled child from boarding a plane from Ranchi.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation said it had amended the regulations to improve accessibility of boarding and flying for the disabled.
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 said.
After obtaining medical opinion, the airline shall take an appropriate decision on the carriage of the passenger, the DGCA said. “In case of refusal of carriage by the airline, it shall inform the passenger in writing with the reasons therein immediately,” it added.
The regulator had proposed the aforementioned regulations on June 3, six days after it had imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on IndiGo for denying boarding to a disabled boy at Ranchi airport on May 7.
The incident caused widespread outrage on social media, with civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia promising a probe.
The DGCA set up a three-member panel to investigate the matter. IndiGo was found guilty, with its actions being non-conformatory with the rules.
The budget carrier 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.
IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta had expressed regret over the incident and offered to buy an electric wheelchair for the disabled boy. Dutta had said the airline staff took the best possible decision under difficult circumstances.
“A more compassionate handling would have smoothened the nerves, calmed the child and obviated the need for denying boarding to the passengers,” DGCA director-general Arun Kumar had said.
“Special situations deserve extraordinary responses but the airline staff failed to rise up to the occasion and in the process committed lapses in adherence to the letter and spirit of the Civil Aviation Requirements (Regulations),” he added.