Air India Fined Rs 30 Lakh for Passenger’s Tragic Death

Reported by Harsh Kumar

Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has taken action against Air India following the unfortunate demise of an elderly passenger. The incident occurred when the airline faced a shortage of wheelchairs, leading to a heartbreaking outcome.

On February 12, an 80-year-old US citizen of Indian origin and his wife arrived in Mumbai from New York via an Air India flight. Both had requested wheelchair assistance, but due to limited availability, only one was provided. The elderly passenger chose to walk alongside his wife, who was using the wheelchair, rather than waiting for another.

Tragically, the long walk proved too much, and the passenger collapsed at the immigration counter, where he later passed away. This incident prompted the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to intervene, seeking a report from the DGCA within four weeks.

In response to the situation, the DGCA investigated Air India’s compliance with regulations regarding passengers with disabilities or reduced mobility. It was found that the airline had failed to meet the standards outlined in the Aircraft Rules, 1937.

Despite Air India’s explanation that the passenger willingly chose to walk, the airline was unable to demonstrate adequate compliance with the regulations. Additionally, no disciplinary action against responsible employees or preventative measures to avoid similar incidents were reported by the airline.

Consequently, the DGCA imposed a hefty fine of Rs 30 lakh on Air India for violating the specified provisions. Furthermore, an advisory has been issued to all airlines to ensure sufficient availability of wheelchairs for passengers requiring assistance during boarding and disembarkation.

This unfortunate incident serves as a reminder of the importance of prioritizing passenger safety and accessibility in air travel. Airlines must take proactive measures to prevent such tragedies and ensure the well-being of all passengers, especially those with special needs.

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