THE three-member team deputed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to probe Saturday’s incident at the Ranchi airport, where IndiGo staff allegedly denied boarding to a specially-abled child, will look into the operational and legal aspects, including the applicability of the “regulations for carriage of persons with disabilities and reduced mobility“, a senior government official told . The official said the detailed fact-finding probe was initiated as the aviation safety regulator was “dissatisfied” with IndiGo’s report on the incident.
“Specifically, the applicability of the regulation detailing requirements for carriage of persons with disability or persons with reduced mobility will be studied,” said the official. “Whether it was followed or not will be decided by the probe. In case of any shortcomings on the part of the airline staff, there are provisions to penalise the airline,” the official said. The fact-finding team is expected to submit its report by May 16.
The regulation referred to is part of the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) (Section 3, Series ‘M’, Part I), which lays down “regulations for carriage of persons with disabilities and reduced mobility by air to protect them against discrimination and to ensure that they receive all possible assistance during their travel”
“No airline shall refuse to carry persons with disability or reduced mobility and their assistive aids/ devices, escorts and guide dogs including their presence in the cabin, provided such persons or their representatives, at the time of booking, inform the airline of their requirement(s),” it states. It also states that “before refusing carriage to any person on the basis of disability, the airline shall specify in writing the basis of such refusal indicating its opinion that transportation of such persons would or might be inimical to the safety of flight”.
The CAR defines a “person with disability” as “any individual who has a physical or mental impairment” on a permanent or temporary basis that limits one or more major life activities.
The three-member team will visit Ranchi and Hyderabad, where the child’s parents are based, to collect evidence. “The team will speak with the passengers concerned, and collect video evidence from Ranchi airport to better understand how the events unfolded,” said the official.
Responding to queries, an IndiGo spokesperson detailed the company’s staff training programme. “All customer-facing employees at IndiGo undergo a mandatory disability sensitisation programme… All employees undergo a mandatory refresher every two years on disability assistance,” said the spokesperson. The airline did not respond to queries on whether it considered the CAR regulations on “carriage of persons with disabilities” and if it had received any communication from the DGCA regarding its report on the incident.
In a statement on Monday, the airline’s CEO, Ronojoy Dutta, had said the company was of the view “that we made the best possible decision under difficult circumstances”. “Throughout the check-in and boarding process our intent, of course, was to carry the family. However, at the boarding area, the teenager was visibly in panic. While providing courteous and compassionate service to our customers is of paramount importance to us, the airport staff, in line with the safety guidelines, were forced to make a difficult decision,” Dutta had said.