Indian airline fined £28700 after 80-year-old passenger dies inside airport

Aviation safety regulator issues advisory to all Indian carriers to ensure availibility of adequate wheelchairs

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Friday 01 March 2024 10:11 GMT
Related: Window panel falls off onboard Air India flight from Delhi to Amritsar

India's aviation safety regulator has imposed a penalty of Rs3m (£28,700) on an airline after an 80-year-old man suffered cardiac arrest due to a delay in wheelchair service.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued a show cause notice to Air India last month for not complying with provisions for people with limited mobility following the passenger’s death.

Babu Patel and his wife had requested their pre-booked wheelchairs upon their arrival at the Mumbai airport from New York on an Air India flight on 12 February.

The couple was asked to wait for assistance due to heavy demand for wheelchairs.

While the woman was provided with a wheelchair, Patel reportedly decided to walk alongside his wife instead of waiting further.

Patel collapsed on his way to the immigration and was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Following the incident, the National Human Rights Commission asked India's aviation authorities to file a detailed report in four weeks and sought compensation for the bereaved family.

The regulator on Thursday said the airline failed to comply with the provisions and take action against the "erring employees". "The airline also failed to submit any corrective action taken to prevent the recurrence of such incidents in future," the DCGA said in a statement.

The regulator also issued an advisory to all airlines to ensure adequate wheelchairs were available for the passengers.

Air India responded to the show cause notice saying that the airline was in "constant touch with the family members of the bereaved, extending necessary assistance."

"Air India has a clearly laid down policy to offer wheelchair assistance to every passenger who requisitions it during reservations.”

Earlier in January, a passenger on an Air India alleged she was served non-vegetarian food – despite the packaging being labelled as meat-free.

Taking to X, Veera Jain shared images of the in-flight meal she was given on board the Calicut-Mumbai flight.

In one of the photos taken by Ms Jain, the meal packaging reads “veg main meal” – but in the second photo, there is chicken served with the rice dish.

Air India also responded to the post, with a representative asking Ms Jain to contact them via direct message.

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