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.