Air India Penalized with Rs30 Lakh Fine for Death of 80-Year-Old Passenger Denied Wheelchair Assistance

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has imposed a fine of Rs. 30 lakh on Air India following the recent demise of an 80-year-old traveler. The passenger, who required wheelchair assistance, was compelled to traverse from the aircraft to the terminal due to a deficiency of available wheelchairs. In response, an advisory has been disseminated to all airlines mandating the provision of adequate wheelchair facilities for passengers in need of assistance.

In Mumbai, the DGCA has sanctioned a penalty of Rs. 30 lakh against Air India subsequent to the death of an 80-year-old passenger who opted to walk from the aircraft to the terminal building due to the airline’s shortage of wheelchairs.

After a report was published in the TOI on February 16, the regulator issued a show cause notice to the airline for non-compliance with the provisions outlined in the “CAR SECTION 3, SERIES ‘M’, PART I on ‘Carriage by Air – Persons with Disability (Divyangjan) and/or Persons with Reduced Mobility’,” constituting a violation of Aircraft Rules, 1937.

Air India responded to the notice on February 20. However, the airline failed to demonstrate compliance with the CAR by neglecting to provide a wheelchair to the elderly passenger. Furthermore, Air India did not report any action taken against the responsible employee(s), nor did it submit any corrective measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Consequently, the DGCA announced a financial penalty of Rs. 30 lakh on Air India in accordance with Aircraft Rules, 1937, for contravening the provisions of the aforementioned CAR. Additionally, an advisory has been issued to all airlines to ensure the availability of a sufficient number of wheelchairs for passengers requiring assistance during embarkation or disembarkation.

The incident occurred on February 12 when the 80-year-old US citizen of Indian origin, accompanied by his wife, arrived in Mumbai from New York on an Air India flight. Although both had requested wheelchair assistance, only one was provided due to the shortage, leaving the elderly passenger to walk alongside his wife, who utilized the wheelchair. Tragically, he collapsed and passed away at the airport immigration counter.

On February 20, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) took suo motu cognizance of the passenger’s demise and issued a notice to the DGCA, requesting a report within four weeks.

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