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IndiGo ‘inappropriately’ handled child with special needs: DGCA

IndiGo must respond to the show-cause notice when served within the next 10 days; appropriate action will be taken in accordance with the law after the airline’s response, the DGCA said

The aviation regulator of the country, the Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGCA), said today that IndiGo staff had inappropriately handled a specially-abled teen at the Ranchi airport while planning to serve a show-cause notice to the airline, asking why suitable enforcement action should not be taken against them for the non-conformances. The regulator had ordered a probe after the teen with special needs, travelling with his family, was stopped from boarding a flight by the airline staff on 7 May.

The DGCA-appointed team, which conducted its probe partly in the open and partly in camera keeping with the request from the affected family, has submitted its report. The findings prima facie indicate inappropriate handling of passengers by the Indigo staff, resulting in certain non-conformances with the applicable regulations.

The airline will have to respond to the notice within the next ten days; the ends May 26. Appropriate action will be taken in accordance with the law after IndiGo’s response, the DGCA said.

An IndiGo manager had allegedly mistreated a child with special needs at the Ranchi airport on 7 May. The incident came to light after an eye-witness account of the incident went viral on social media. The airlines also issued a statement after the post.

According to Abhinandan Mishra, who was present at the spot when the incident took place, the child had an uncomfortable car ride to the airport and was visibly stressed upon arrival at the boarding gate. His parents, however, brought the situation under control with some ‘food and love’.

But at the of boarding, an IndiGo manager warned the family that the child would not be allowed to board the plane unless the child acted ‘normally’.

The manager did not stop there. He reportedly announced that the specially-abled child is a risk to other passengers and compared his condition (teenage assertiveness) to that of drunken passengers before deeming him unfit for travelling on their aircraft. The manager was unfazed despite several co-passengers opposing his move.

The incident sparked a debate over who should take the call on the fitness of a passenger with disabilities: the airline staff, manager or doctors present at the airport. According to the co-passengers, there were doctors on the flight who assured the parents of complete in-flight support. But eventually, the flight departed for Hyderabad, leaving the three behind.

After the post gained traction on Twitter, IndiGo issued a statement claiming the specially-abled child could not have boarded the flight in a “ of panic”.

“The ground staff waited for him to calm down till the last minute, but to no avail. The airline made the family comfortable by providing them with a hotel stay and the family flew the next morning to their destination. We regret the inconvenience caused to the passengers,” the airline said in the statement.

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