SpiceJet begins probe into offloading of disabled woman

No–frill carrier SpiceJet has launched a  probe into an incident in which a differently abled woman was forced to disembark from its Kolkata–Mumbai flight on Sunday, after the crew claimed it was not safe to have her on board.

The airline, which expressed regret over the incident, said, “We are investigating the matter internally and action will be taken.”

Jeeja Ghosh, a 42–year–old teacher at Kolkata’s Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy, was offloaded after she had boarded the flight.

Ghosh was scheduled to deliver a lecture in a conference on bringing the differently abled to the mainstream, in Goa.

Expressing concern over the incident, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh told reporters here, “We will ask SpiceJet and see what action they take against their pilot.”

Under the existing civil aviation rules set by the Directorate–General of Civil Aviation, there are detailed guidelines titled “Carriage by Air of Persons with Disability and/or Persons with Reduced Mobility,” that came into effect in May 2008.

This rule specifically states that “no airline shall refuse to carry persons with disability or persons with reduced mobility and their aids/devices, escorts and guide dogs, including their presence in the cabin, provided such persons or their representatives, at the time of booking and/or check-in for travel, inform the airlines of their requirement.”

The rule also states that “no medical clearance or special forms shall be insisted from persons with disabilities or persons with reduced mobility who only require special assistance at the airport for assistance in embarking/ disembarking and a reasonable accommodation in flight.”

The rules make it mandatory for airlines to hold special training for their staff on handling such passengers, apart from conducting  refresher courses every three years.

Unsafe to travel

Airline sources in Kolkata had earlier claimed that as Ghosh suffered from cerebral palsy, it was not safe for the airline to allow her inside the aircraft.

After being denied the permission to fly, she had lodged a complaint with the SpiceJet authorities, saying the pilot was “adamant” in not allowing her to fly though some people tried to convince him to take her on board.

“I think such people should get a show cause notice. They don’t deserve to hold the job. They are not human beings,” Ghosh, herself a frequent flier, had later told reporters in Kolkata.

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