After the aviation regulator, DGCA had last week imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on IndiGo airline for denying boarding to a specially-abled child at Ranchi airport on May 7, the airline has decided to conduct an internal case study on how to better handle specially-abled passengers, especially when they are feeling distressed, its CEO Ronojoy Dutta said. IndiGo had on May 9 said the boy was denied permission to board the Ranchi-Hyderabad flight as he was visibly in panic.
Dutta, in an interview with PTI on May 31, said the airline would not appeal against the Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) decision to impose the fine. “Some people are asking me this question — are you going to appeal? Of course not,” he said. The official said the airline will take note of the DGCA findings and implement each one of them. “So, they have said a few things. They have said that in a situation like this, call the airport doctor. And yes, we have put that in our SOPs (standard operating procedures) that whenever a situation like this arises, always consult the airport doctor,” he mentioned.
The DGCA has said that IndiGo should try and enhance the training of staff in terms of sensitivity, he said. “We already have robust training in place to deal with people with special needs. We are going to do a big case study on this and talk to all our coaches (who train the cabin crew members as well as the ground staff) and see what we can learn.
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“I think what the DGCA has said is that you should try and calm the passenger down,” Dutta noted. The IndiGo CEO said the airline needs to ask itself in situations like this what can it do about calming the distressed passenger. “So, we are doing our own internal case study,” he added. He said the airline has about 100 of the aforementioned coaches who do this kind of special training for cabin crew members and ground staff.
“We are getting them all together and doing our own case study. This is what happened. This is the outcome. What should have been done differently? How can we be more sensitive in terms of using calming techniques with a customer? So, we are going to look through all of that,” the CEO said.
The regulator had last Saturday said that the handling of the special child by the IndiGo ground staff was deficient and ended up exacerbating the situation. More compassionate handling would have smoothened nerves, calmed the child, and obviated the need for the extreme step resulting in the passengers being denied boarding, it had mentioned.
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As the child was denied boarding, the parents — who were accompanying him — also did not board the plane on May 7. The regulator had said that to avoid such situations in the future, it would revisit its regulations, making it mandatory for airlines to take the airport doctor’s written opinion on the health of a passenger before deciding to deny boarding.
Moreover, the DGCA had said the new regulations would make sure that there is also a written consultation with the captain of the aircraft for his or her opinion on allowing such a passenger on board.
The regulator had said that special situations deserve extraordinary responses, but the airline’s staff failed to rise to the occasion, and in the process, committed lapses in adherence to the letter and spirit of the Civil Aviation Requirements (regulations). In view of this, the competent authority in DGCA has decided to impose a penalty of Rs 5 lakh on the airline under the provisions of the relevant aircraft rules, it had informed.
(With inputs from PTI)