Air India fined Rs 30 lakh over non-availability of wheelchair causing death of elderly passenger

Air India was issued a penalty of Rs. 30 lakh by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Thursday for “not having adequate number of wheelchairs” at the Mumbai airport, which led to the death of an elderly passenger earlier this month, according to officials.

“A financial penalty of Rs.30 lakh has been imposed on Air India as per Aircraft Rules, 1937 for violating the provisions of the aforementioned CAR [civil aviation requirements],” a statement issued by the DGCA read.

The statement further reads, “An advisory has also been issued to all airlines to ensure that an adequate number of wheelchairs are available for passengers who require assistance during embarking or disembarking from the aircraft during their journey.”

Furthermore, all airlines have received a warning from the civil aviation regulator asking that they keep a sufficient number of wheelchairs at airports for passengers.

On February 12, an 80-year-old passenger who came on an Air India flight from New York with his wife died after collapsing at Mumbai airport due to a heart attack after allegedly walking 1.5 kilometres because of a lack of wheelchairs.

The DGCA then issued a show cause notice to Air India for failing to keep up with the rules of CAR SECTION 3, SERIES ‘M’, PART I on “Carriage by Air – Persons with Disability (Divyangjan) and/or Persons with Reduced Mobility,” a breach of the Aircraft Rules, 1937.

According to the DGCA, the airline responded on February 20th, stating that the elderly passenger preferred to walk beside his wife, who was also in a wheelchair, rather than wait for another wheelchair.

“However, the airline failed to show compliance with the CAR as the airline did not provide any wheelchair to the elderly passenger,” the regulator said.

According to the DGCA, Air India did not notify them of any actions taken against the erring employee(s).  “The airline also failed to submit any corrective actions taken to prevent the recurrence of such incidents in the future,” the regulator stated.

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