IndiGo chief executive officer Ronojoy Dutta on Monday stood by the airline's decision to not allow a specially abled teen to board a flight at Ranchi airport.
Calling the incident "unfortunate", the budget carrier's CEO said the staff made the best possible decision. "Having reviewed all aspects of this incident, we as an organisation are of the view that we made the best possible decision under difficult circumstances," Dutta says in a press statement.
On May 7, a specially abled teenager and his parents could not board their scheduled flight to Hyderabad after the airline staff denied them entry into the aircraft.
"Throughout the check-in and boarding process our intent of course was to carry the family, however, at the boarding area the teenager was visibly in panic," the CEO of IndiGo says.
"While providing courteous and compassionate service to our customers is of paramount importance to us, the airport staff, in line with the safety guidelines, were forced to make a difficult decision as to whether this commotion would carry forward aboard the aircraft," Dutta adds.
"We recognise too well that parents who dedicate their lives to the caring of physically challenged persons are the true heroes of our society. We offer our sincere regrets to the affected family for the unfortunate experience and as a small token of our appreciation of their lifelong dedication would like to offer to purchase an electric wheelchair for their son," the CEO says.
The statement comes hours after Union Minister for Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya M. Scindia said he was investigating the matter himself. "There is zero tolerance towards such behaviour. No human being should have to go through this! Investigating the matter by myself, post which appropriate action will be taken," Scindia tweeted.
As per the guidelines of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), passengers who are likely to be unruly must be carefully monitored, and if deemed to pose a threat to the safety and security of the flight, fellow passengers or staff while on board aircraft, should be refused embarkation or off-loaded.
"All airlines shall establish a mechanism to detect and report unruly passenger behaviour at check-in, in the lounges, at the boarding gate or any other place in the terminal building in order to prevent such passengers from boarding," the guidelines issued by the aviation regulator say. "Airline staff should observe early signs of potential unruly behaviour. Airlines shall focus and act on these early signs, rather than dealing exclusively with escalated events. At no stage, the airline staff/crew member shall show discourteous behaviour during redressal of genuine passenger rights."