The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has imposed a Rs 5 lakh fine on domestic carrier IndiGo in relation to the case of a specially-abled child being denied boarding by the airline at Ranchi Airport on May 7.
DGCA had launched a fact-finding enquiry into the incident for which it has formed a three-member committee. Based on the findings of the committee, it had issued a show-cause notice to IndiGo. It also conducted a personal hearing and gave the opportunity to IndiGo to make further written submissions.
After following the due process, DGCA has ruled that the "handling of the special child by the Indigo ground staff was deficient and ended up exacerbating the situation."
"A more compassionate handling would have smoothened the nerves, calmed the child and would have obviated the need for the extreme step resulting in denied boarding to the passengers," added the aviation regulator in an official 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)," it further stated.
"In view of this, the Competent Authority in DGCA has decided to impose a penalty of Rs. Five Lakhs on the airline under the provisions of the relevant Aircraft Rules," explained the DGCA.
The DGCA has also stated that it will revisit its own regulation and bring about necessary changes in due course in order to stave off more situations like these. It will mandate written consultation with the Airport Doctor on the state of health of the passenger as well as with the Commander of the Aircraft for their opinion in allowing such passengers on board.
DGCA has suggested that airlines should also revisit their Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and training processes for dealing with such cases, in order to bring a more humane touch.
On May 7, an IndiGo manager did not allow a specially-abled child to board a flight at Ranchi Airport. According to the eye-witness account shared on Twitter, the IndiGo allegedly announced that the specially-abled child was a flight risk. He even compared the child's condition, teenage assertiveness, to that of drunken passengers. He judged the child unfit for travel. Ultimately, the flight departed for Hyderabad, leaving behind the child and their parents.
DGCA has ordered the fact-finding probe a day after an eyewitness account of the incident went viral on Twitter.
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