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Fit to fly?

Alarmed at the rising number of passenger deaths, airlines are pushing for a mandatory disclosure of fliers? medical history before a ticket is issued.

india Updated: Dec 28, 2006 02:37 IST

Alarmed at the rising number of passenger deaths, airlines are pushing for a mandatory disclosure of fliers’ medical history before a ticket is issued. If approved by civil aviation authorities, passengers would have to detail the ailments they are suffering from or any medical condition they might have.

Passengers would have to fill in a disclosure form at the time of buying a ticket. In case of an adverse medical history, the passenger would have to furnish a doctor’s certificate saying that he/she is fit to fly. There would also be an indemnity bond, absolving the airline of all responsibility in case of death or any other health emergency on the flight.

In Mumbai alone, six passengers have died in the last two months with airlines copping most of the blame. They have also had to suffer huge losses because of diversions and delays caused by medical emergencies. The cost of diverting an international flight is Rs 5-10 lakh.

The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), airlines’ apex body, is lobbying for disclosure, saying it will benefit fliers "We are concerned about passenger deaths. There must be a mandatory disclosure of health details and I will raise this issue in the forthcoming meeting of the federation," said Kingfisher Airlines chairman and FIA member Dr Vijay Mallya.

However, the Air Passenger Association of India (APAI) has opposed the move. "Seeking health records is unjustified and impractical. Mandatory disclosure should be a must only for passengers suffering from chronic diseases or heart ailments," said APAI president Sudhakar Reddy from Chennai.

Air India, which has had three passenger deaths in the last two months, is very much in favour of the disclosure. Air India Executive Director (Finance) and Spokesman S Venkat told HT: "Like insurance companies, airlines will ask passengers to fill a form and declare their ailments before they fly. If a passenger has a problem, he/she must furnish a medical certificate. Then we will have the right to refuse such passengers."

Airline officials pointed out that the crew would have a better chance of saving a passenger if his/her medical history is known.

A senior official of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak, said: “Airlines will have to get our approval before implementing the new norm."

Meanwhile, Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL), which manages the city’s airport, has tied up with Topsline emergency health service to provide a 24-hour intensive cardiac care unit to rush ailing passengers to the nearest hospital.

Email Lalatendu Mishra: lalatendu .mishra@hindustantimes.com