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IndiGo fined Rs 5 lakh for not letting special needs child board

The incident happened on a Hyderabad-bound flight, on May 7, 2022, and was brought to light in a Facebook post by a passenger at the airport who was waiting to board another flight.

In a statement, IndiGo had said that the child “could not board the flight…as he was in a state of panic”. (File)

Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Saturday said it has imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on IndiGo for denying boarding to a specially abled child at Ranchi airport on May 7.

After the boy was stopped from getting on the plane, his parents too decided to not take the flight. IndiGo subsequently said the boy was denied permission to board the Ranchi-Hyderabad flight as he was visibly in panic.

The regulator said that in order to avoid such situations in the future, it would revisit its own regulations, and make it mandatory for airlines to take the airport doctor’s written opinion on the health of a passenger before making the decision to deny boarding. The new regulations would also mandate written consultations with the captain of the aircraft for his or her opinion on allowing such a passenger on board, the DGCA said.

The DGCA had constituted a three-member team to investigate the incident on May 9.

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“It has been observed that the handling of the special child by the Indigo ground staff was deficient and ended up exacerbating the situation,” the regulator said on Saturday. A more compassionate handling of the situation would have smoothed nerves, calmed the child, and obviated the need for the extreme step that resulted in the passengers being denied boarding, it said.

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 (regulations), it noted. The competent authority in the DGCA had therefore taken the decision to impose a penalty of Rs 5 lakh on the airline, it said.

IndiGo was issued a show-cause notice after the three-member team in its preliminary findings said on May 16 that the airline was in violation of DGCA regulations.

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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, however, said the airline staff took the best possible decision under difficult circumstances.

Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said on Twitter on May 9 that no human being should have to go through what the child had to, and that he was personally looking at the incident.

First published on: 28-05-2022 at 15:21 IST
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