IndiGo passenger hurt after fall from wheelchair, AAI rebuts airline claims
New Delhi: A woman passenger of IndiGo was injured after she fell from a wheelchair while being ferried by its staffer at the Lucknow airport, triggering a spat with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) terming the reasons given by the airline as “incorrect”.
Two days after the incident, the airline on Monday claimed that the mishap happened due to crack in the floor at the airport, drawing retort from the AAI which said it all happened because of “gross negligence of IndiGo staff”.
In an unusual move, state-owned AAI on Monday issued two statements about the incident, which happened at around 2000 hours on Saturday at the Lucknow airport. The latest incident comes days after IndiGo came under fire and apologised following the surfacing of a video of a passenger being manhandled at the Delhi airport.
In a statement shared with PTI on Monday, an IndiGo spokesperson apologised for the mishap involving the passenger, Urvashi Parikh Viren. “Our IndiGo representative was pushing her wheelchair towards the arrival hall. As he was guiding her wheelchair through a vehicular lane, which was dimly lit at that time of the night, her wheelchair got stuck in a deep crack on the tarmac and lost balance and she fell off her wheelchair,” the spokesperson said.
According to the airline, the passenger was “injured” and was immediately rushed to the doctor of the AAI and was administered first aid.
In a late evening statement, an AAI spokesperson said it would like to put on record that “the reasons given by IndiGo of the wheelchair getting stuck into the crack on the road and claims of dim light are not correct as there is no crack on the tarmac and the area (baggage makeup area, near the airside conveyor belt) has sufficient illumination”.
Earlier in the day, AAI—the Lucknow airport operator—in a statement said that as per investigations, the incident happened due to “gross negligence of IndiGo staff as he chose the wrong path on the tarmac and mishandled the passenger”.
Without mentioning the word “gross negligence” in the second statement, the AAI provided a sequence of events that led to the woman passenger on IndiGo’s Mumbai-Lucknow flight (6E-446) getting injured. “The IndiGo loader ferrying the passenger in wheelchair, went in the wrong direction by taking a short cut ignoring the defined path.
“As per the airport’s CCTV footage, six wheelchairs were required and used for the above mentioned flight. While, two loaders took the defined and proper path towards the arrival hall, four loaders took a short cut to the arrival hall of the terminal building,” the AAI said.
In its statement, IndiGo also claimed that “she (Viren) was kind enough to say that it wasn’t a human error and we should deal with the staff with empathy, when we de-brief our loader”.
Citing IndiGo’s staff who was involved in the incident, the AAI said the passenger on wheelchair was carrying four knob walking stick. “The passenger placed her walking stick on the road while the loader was still pushing the wheelchair. This resulted in the unfortunate incident of the passenger falling from the wheelchair,” the AAI spokesperson said.
An official at the Lucknow airport said the incident cannot be blamed on alleged poor airport infrastructure. The airline has been using the lane and there has never been any complaint till this incident happened, the official said.
Dhruv Jyoti Mukherjee, terminal manager of the AAI and IndiGo representative, profusely apologised to Viren, the statement said. It could not be immediately ascertained whether the passenger has filed a complaint. On Saturday night, a relative of the woman passenger had tweeted about the incident.
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