Please refer to our earlier post "On Mothers Day, a Special mother harrassed by an insensitive and arrogant Indigo Manager at Ranchi Airport, India"
The ground staff's refusal to allow the child from boarding the aircraft on the ground that he was a safety risk had drawn widespread criticism, prompting the aviation regulator to launch a probe. The Union Minister for Civil Aviation Shri JM Scindia had himself ordered a probe into the incident saying, "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."
Subsequently, the regulator DGCA constituted a 3-member team to conduct a fact-finding probe. The findings of the committee prima facie indicated inappropriate handling of passengers by the IndiGo staff thereby resulting in certain non-conformances with the applicable regulations.
The DGCA probe found the IndiGo ground staff “deficient” in their handling of the passenger with disability and lacking in sensitivity and thus ended up exacerbating the situation.
These findings are based on a fact-finding exercise carried out by a three-member committee constituted by the DGCA which visited the Ranchi airport, met the family members of the special needs child , an eyewitness and met IndiGo officials too.
This had led to DGCA issuing a "showcause notice" to the airline through its authorized representative to explain as to why suitable enforcement action should not be taken against them for the non-conformances (as a requirement of the law), thereby providing an opportunity to the airline for personal hearing as well as for making written submissions till 26th of May 2022.
“A more compassionate handling would have smoothened the nerves, calmed the child and obviated the need for the extreme step resulting in denied boarding to the passengers.” DGCA’s Director General Arun Kumar said in a press statement.
"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)," the statement said, adding that the competent authority has decided to impose a penalty of ₹ 5 lakh on the airline.
This is importnat since it is for the very first time for any airline in the country to be fined by the DGCA on this ground since the recent amendments in the Aircraft (amendment) Act 2020 gave the powers to DGCA to levy fines without approaching a civil court for non compliance of Rules issued under the Aircraft Act.
The DGCA has also said that it will also make amendments to the Civil Aviation Requirement on “Carriage by Air of Persons with Disability or Persons with reduced mobility” to ensure written consultation with the airport doctor on the state of the passenger’s health as well as the opinion of the Pilot-in-Command on allowing such a passenger on board before he or she is denied boarding.
The DGCA also wants airlines to revisit their standard operating procedures and training processes for dealing with people with disabilities.
Related news: The Hindu