The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Friday modified its rules on the carriage of disabled passengers. It said that airlines can’t deny boarding to people with special needs without consulting a doctor. DGCA is the statutory body of the Government of India to regulate civil aviation in the country.
What do the new rules by DGCA say?
The aviation regulator also said that airlines must inform passengers about the reasons behind their refusal to board a plane if they have a medical opinion. In its new regulations, the DGCA said that if an airline refuses to board a passenger due to a medical condition, it must provide a written explanation.
The new regulations also stated that airlines should not refuse to ‘carriage by air’ services to people with disability or those with reduced mobility. However, if they believe that the passenger’s health condition might deteriorate in flight, the airline should contact a doctor. The doctor should then provide a clear and comprehensive medical opinion, and the carrier should then take the appropriate decision. The clause has been added to CAR.
Before the new regulations were issued, airlines were allowed to refuse to board a passenger due to their disability if it was because the transportation of the person would be inimical to the safety of the plane. However, they were also required to provide a written explanation.
Why the rules were amended
The new regulations were issued following an incident in May when low-cost carrier IndiGo prevented a child with special needs from boarding a flight to Hyderabad. The company cited safety concerns as the reason for its decision.
Following the incident, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) imposed a fine on IndiGo of Rs 5lakh. The authoritative body noted that the airline’s ground staff could have handled the situation better instead of “exacerbating it.
In response, the company stood with the decision of the ground staff and said it was done in the interest of flight safety. It also said that it would conduct an internal case study to learn how it can better serve its passengers with special needs.