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Sunday, Oct 02, 2022

Explained: Why DGCA amended rules for boarding specially abled people on aircraft

Now, airlines cannot deny boarding to “any person on the basis of disability” without a medical opinion. What is the new regulation, and why has it been introduced? What were the old rules?

DGCA's new rule has been enforced in the aftermath of an incident with IndiGo. (File Photo)

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Friday amended its rules on carriage of disabled passengers to say that airlines cannot deny boarding to specially abled people without seeking the medical opinion of a doctor at the airport on a passenger’s fitness to fly.

What does the new DGCA regulation say?

The DGCA said it has amended its regulations to improve accessibility of boarding and flying for the specially abled.

In its new Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR), the DGCA has said that if an airline decides to deny boarding after getting medical opinion, it will have to immediately inform the passenger in writing and mention the reasons.

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The clause added to the CAR on “carriage by air – persons with disability and/or persons with reduced mobility” states: “Airline shall not refuse carriage of any person on the basis of disability. 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, who shall categorically state the medical condition and whether the passenger is fit to fly or not. After obtaining the medical opinion, the airline shall take the appropriate call”.

What were the old rules?

According to the earlier rules, airlines could deny boarding to any person on the basis of disability if it opined that “transportation of such persons would or might be inimical to the safety of flight”. The airlines, however, were bound to specify in writing the basis of such refusal.

Why were the rules amended?

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Friday’s move, which was originally proposed on June 3, was made in the aftermath of an incident at Ranchi airport in May, when low-cost airline IndiGo disallowed a specially abled child from boarding its Hyderabad-bound flight citing potential threat to air safety.

Following the IndiGo incident, the aviation safety regulator had conducted an investigation and imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on the airline. At the time of penalising IndiGo, the DGCA had noted that the airline’s ground staff could have avoided the situation with a “more compassionate handling”, and ended up “exacerbating” the situation.

Notably, IndiGo, which stood by its ground staff’s decision to deny boarding saying it was done in the interest of flight safety, later said it planned to conduct an internal case study on how to better serve passengers with disabilities, especially when they are feeling distressed.

First published on: 23-07-2022 at 02:03:30 pm
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