Politics

DGCA suspends IndiGo captain for misbehaving with wheelchair bound senior citizen

NEW DELHI: The aviation regulator on Monday suspended an IndiGo captain’s flying licence for three months after its probe that the pilot had behaved aggressively with a wheelchair-bound senior citizen and her daughter on a Chennai-Bengaluru flight last month. The daughter had complained on social media on January 14 — a day after her harrowing experience — following which Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) chief Arun Kumar had ordered a probe into the issue and the senior pilot was grounded.
The altercation had happened when during deplaning in Bengaluru, a lady passenger, who was accompanying a wheelchair bound senior citizen passenger (75), asked the lead cabin crew for an early wheelchair assistance. The pilot-in-command (PIC) intervened at this point, leading to the altercation.
The regulator’s probe into the behaviour of January 13’s 6E-806 pilot-in-command (PIC) has found that “the PIC misused his authority in intimidating and threatening the wheelchair bound passenger and her attendant by saying that they will be handed over to CISF and a police case will be registered against them for unruly behavior.”
The PIC, says the probe report, “further directed IndiGo security staff to detain both the lady passengers from deplaning. The PIC has exhibited aggression towards the lady passengers in his dealings while disregarding the fact that the elderly passenger required wheelchair assistance.”
“That the PIC also insisted on an apology letter from the passengers, which further delayed the matter and the passengers were detained for approximately 1 hour 15 minutes after the start of de-boarding process of the flight,” it says.
After the case came to light when the daughter took to social media, the DGCA had issued a show cause notice to the PIC. “After examining the reply of the PIC to the show cause notice it was established that the PIC’s attitude towards the wheelchair bound senior citizen passenger was intimidating, threatening and lacked compassion. His actions led to avoidable detention of wheelchair bound passenger. He exhibited lack of ability in managing threat and error situation especially when he was to operate another commercial flight after a short duration, DGCA has suspended the license held by the PIC for a period of three months,” said a senior DGCA official.
On January 14, Bengaluru-based Supriya Unni Nair had narrated the alleged harassment she and her 75-year-old mother had faced on the flight a day earlier. Nair, from her handle @SupriyaUnniNair said in a series of tweets: “Your (IndiGo’s) captain on 6E 806 from Chennai to Bangalore on January 13 (name) harassed, threatened and prevented me and my 75-year old diabetic mom from disembarking the flight and threatened to arrest us because we asked for wheelchair assistance. I always ask for wheelchair beforehand for my mom and remind staff when we land…. Our flight was late and when we landed at 9:15 pm, I tried calling the assistance bell and when the crew didn’t respond, I walked up for help.”

“She (the cabin crew) claimed we don’t have access to a wheelchair when it was clearly printed on the ticket. When I pointed this out to her, the captain came barging out and yells at me for pressing the assistance button and annoying him and his crew. ‘How dare hi you call her (the cabin crew),’ he asks. Taken aback, I tell him not to yell at me and then the threats start. The wheelchair guys arrive and he points at mom and says you’re not going anywhere.”
“He prevents the wheelchair people from taking my mom out of the aircraft threatening us that he will ensure we are detained and spend a night in jail. Disbelievingly I ask him whether he is serious. ‘Shut up. Who do you think I am? I’ll get my CEO to make sure you spend a night in jail. We will teach you some manners,’ he says,” Nair chain of Tweets read.
“My mom in the meanwhile is worried as he is so aggressive that he looks like he will get physically abusive with me and says please don’t be rude like that, to which he says he is the captain, his job is to fly the plane here and not be polite to mere passengers. ‘You have paid piddly Rs 2,000, you don’t own the aircraft,’ he adds. ‘I will make sure you are barred from the skies’, “she had said.

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