When regulations come into conflict

Drukair refusing to fly an ailing Bhutanese passenger to Bangkok for treatment has been a subject of heated debate this entire week. The question that begs to be answered still is why did the captain take the decision he did that day.

Airlines have regulations like all workplaces do. But what is disturbing is how for a comfort of a few passengers an airline could devalue a life of a person in need of urgent medical attention.

This decision by the airline reflects poorly on the ethics and purpose of a vital communication mode that a landlocked and mountainous country is compelled to depend on. The patient and his family had to fly out for treatment because none could be had here, in the health facilities, at home.

If the airlines are there not to serve the needs of our own people, why are the airlines there at all? How and where do they find the possibility of it existence?

Maybe we are getting our priorities wrong. If the comfort of tourists is more important than the life of a passenger in need of immediate medical attention, Drukair should have made it clear that an individual with health problems cannot board the plane.

What we are made to understand by the recent incident is that Drukair is fit just for and rich and clean.

The justification that Drukair has given us today came a little too late, and the argument is too lame to say the least.

What is worrying is that we are now hearing conflicting stories about the incident. Drukair’s press release, which came much later to us than it should have, told us that vote wasn’t held to either carry or de-board the passenger for the safety and comfort of the passengers onboard.

But the passengers had a different story to tell. Whatever the truth, which we might not be able to find out ever, the airline must own it that its duty is first to passengers with urgent medical needs as much as it is to provide comfort for others boarding the same flight.

According to aviation regulation, a captain can de-board any passenger if his or her presence can affect security, safety and comfort of other passengers without having to consult third party.

We understand that the captain of the flight had little choice. What now has become important is that the airlines could review their rules and regulations to allow them to serve both comfort-seeking travellers and those that are in need of medical emergency, especially in the context of landlocked country like ours where flights are the only mode of emergency transport.

2 replies
  1. chopel
    chopel says:

    This is one good editorial by Kuensel. This time Kuensel have gone beyond the storytelling news and done some critical thinking. THUMPS UP TO EDITOR OR WHOEVER WROTE THIS ARTICLE. Wish that MOIC and DrukAir can come up with a regulation, if there are none, so that both the tourist and Bhutanese traveller can fit into one BOX. Looking forward for such papers in kuensel in future

  2. irfan
    irfan says:

    What feels good to know now is that the concerned patient is receiving treatment at some Bangkok hospital now. This is also good to know that the patient along with his relatives attending to him got a chartered flight to hire at a discounted price of 40400 USD if I am not wrong. Even that’s no cheap price to pay, but there were the good people contributing as much as 22000 USD to the family and that’s help on pure humanitarian grounds.

    Following the unfolding of the entire incident, there are plenty of passengers praising the Druk Air captain the way he has managed the entire situation within his limits and regulations in place. It’s still not known exactly what aircraft Tashi Airways provided for the chartered flight taking the patient and his relatives to Bangkok. Now should there be special provisions in the aviation space within the country where similar needs may arise in future as well! If that’s the case, things can be a lot more organised and planned in future for service delivery and even the business purpose. Every patient may not be lucky with a good financial aid arriving at the right time.

    But there are the rules and regulations of the health sector as well that shouldn’t go unnoticed. If facilities are not available for the required treatments within the country, can things may be allowed to be different in future! If facilities are in place, can it be a possibility to get an expert team to fly in and perform surgeries within the country? It’s difficult to comment as we don’t know the exact health condition of the patient and treatments required. Was there an alternative choice in the referral system in place for medical complications?

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