Airlines in India demand health disclosure by fliers

Increasing number of passenger deaths prompt the airlines to demand medical history, reports Lalatendu Mishra.

india Updated: Dec 28, 2006 16:02 IST

Alarmed at the increasing number of passenger deaths, airlines are pushing for a mandatory disclosure of fliers’ medical history before a ticket is issued. In the past two months, six passengers have died in Mumbai alone.

If the disclosure norm is approved by civil aviation authorities, passengers would have to detail their ailments or any medical condition they might have. They would have to fill in a disclosure form at the time of buying the ticket. In case of an adverse medical history, a passenger would have to furnish a doctor’s certificate saying he/she is fit to fly.

The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), the airlines’ apex body, is lobbying for disclosure. "There must be mandatory disclosure of health details," said Vijay Mallya of Kingfisher. But Air Passengers’ Association of India’s Sudhakar Reddy said: "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.

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First Published: Dec 28, 2006 01:58 IST