Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, July 13
Fresh instructions issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) stipulate that no airline shall refuse to carry persons with disability or reduced mobility and their assistive aids, escorts and guide dogs in the aircraft’s cabin.
“The airlines shall incorporate appropriate provisions on their website within three months so that while making bookings, passengers with disability have the option to select the facilities required during the journey,” provisions issued under the Civil Aviation Requirements on July 9, state. Passengers concerned will have to intimate the airline of their requirements at least 48 hours prior to departure.
Asking airlines and their agents not to discriminate against persons with disability or reduced mobility in providing access for internet ticketing, special fares, etc, the DGCA has directed them to make available in easy format on websites, safety rules that apply to the carriage of disabled persons as well as any restrictions on their carriage or on the assistive equipment due to the size of aircraft.
With the concept of low cost and no-frills allowing the common man with an average income to travel by air, the DGCA has pointed out that there is a need to standardise conditions for travel of persons with disability or reduced mobility so as to facilitate their acceptance and handling by airlines, airport operators and ground-handling agencies.
No airline shall refuse to carry passengers in a stretcher or incubator, subject to limitation of the aircraft and applicable charges, when they are accompanied by an escort capable to attending to the passenger’s medical needs during embarking, in flight and disembarking. To ensure safety of aircraft operations, the maximum number of persons with disability permitted to travel in a single flight shall not be more than the number of cabin crew, except when such passengers are accompanied by trained escorts.
Emergency evacuation procedures and handling of persons with disabilities are required to be developed and incorporated in the airlines’ safety manuals. Passengers with disabilities will be given the highest priority during offloading and suitable arrangements will be made by airlines for their boarding, de-boarding, baggage clearance, etc.
Airlines have also been asked to develop procedures for the carriage of guide dogs in the aircraft’s cabin. Such dogs will have to be certified as professionally trained and vaccinated and will have to remain properly harnessed and at the passenger’s feet on the cabin floor.
While passengers with disabilities or reduced mobility will not be required to produce a medical certificate or special forms if they wish to travel without an escort, a medical certificate may be required if the person is suffering from any communicable disease, needs medical oxygen during flight, travelling in a stretcher or there is a possibility of the medical condition getting aggravated.
All airlines and aircraft operators, airport staff and enforcement agencies will be required to conduct training programmes as provided by central government guidelines and regulations on assisting disabled persons, for all personnel engaged in passenger=related services. Guidelines have also been laid done for airport operators for providing facilities and assistance to such passengers.
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