IndiGo ‘abused passengers’, norms flouted: DGCA on airline denying boarding to child with special needs


The DGCA issues a notice of apparent cause to the airline after the fact-finding team of 3 completes the investigation

The DGCA issues a notice of apparent cause to the airline after the fact-finding team of 3 completes the investigation

Days after an uproar over IndiGo denying boarding to a passenger with special needs on a flight from Ranchi, the DGCA’s investigative committee has determined prima facie that the airline abused passengers and broke its rules.

“The Committee’s findings prima facie indicate inappropriate handling of passengers by Indigo staff, leading to certain violations of applicable regulations,” the DGCA said in a statement.

IndiGo has been issued a Cause Notice to explain within the next 10 days why “no appropriate enforcement action should be taken against them”. The airline will also have the opportunity to present its side of the story in an in-person hearing.

Last Monday, the DGCA formed a three-member committee of inquiry after widespread outrage over IndiGo’s refusal to board a special-needs wheelchair-bound youth who was being accompanied by his parents on a May 7 flight from Ranchi to Hyderabad. The airline said that the passenger was “in a panic” and could therefore endanger flight safety. The family was placed on another IndiGo flight the following day.

The investigative team was formed after Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia tweeted that there was “zero tolerance” for such treatment of passengers and that he would personally investigate the incident.

However, IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta supported his airline manager, saying “we made the best possible decision in a difficult situation” as flight safety was at stake.

The regulations that the DGCA deals with are the civil aviation regulations for “Carriage of Passengers with Disabilities and/or Persons with Reduced Mobility”. According to these Rules, if a person with a disability is denied boarding, the airline must state in writing the basis for such a decision. Airlines are also required to assist in smooth transportation to the aircraft during departure and to the arrival terminal exit after the aircraft has landed at the destination airport. Passengers with disabilities must be embarked and disembarked separately and an attempt must be made to ensure expeditious handling for them and their baggage.

Eyewitness reports indicate that the passenger in question appeared stressed and uncomfortable after a long drive to the airport, and during check-in and security when he and his family arrived at the gate.

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