40 stage airport protest against AirAsia
Why no access for disabled?
July 19, 2007
ITS tagline is ‘Now Everyone Can Fly’.
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One of 40 protesters are asking not only AirAsia but also Malaysia Airport Holdings to make provisions for disabled passengers. — Picture: GUANG MING DAILY
But, on Monday, budget carrier AirAsia came under fire from a Malaysian transport access group for not having facilities for disabled people to board its flights, reported The New Straits Times.
About 40 members of Barrier-free Environment and Accessible Transport Group (Beat) staged a peaceful protest at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport Low-Cost Carrier Terminal after one of them was unable to book a ticket online.
Mr Peter Tan said he could not tick the box confirming he did not require special assistance on the AirAsia website.
HAVE TO BE ABLE TO WALK
‘I couldn’t proceed because of it. And each time I contacted the call centre, I was told: ‘If you can’t walk. then we can’t take you. It is company policy’,’ he said.
Mr Tan, who is Beat’s assistant co-ordinator, said the AirAsia operator at the call centre informed him that if he could not manage the steps of the airplane by himself, he had to bring someone along to help him.
‘Even so, it will still be impossible for us as our carer can’t possibly carry us onboard,’ Mr Tan added.
Beat co-ordinator Christine Lee said there must be some mechanism AirAsia could use to lift passengers up to the aircraft, similar to those used to load luggage and food.
Ms Lee said AirAsia should provide facilities for passengers who are immobile and those with limited mobility.
The group is calling on Malaysia Airports Holdings to ensure all new and old airports are equipped with facilities to improve accessibility for the disabled.
An AirAsia spokesman declined to comment on the matter.
In January, The New Paper reported a similar incident involving another no-frills airline.
An Indonesian family wasn’t allowed to board a Valuair flight in Singapore on 23 Dec last year as their daughter was wheelchair-bound.
A Valuair spokesman said the policy was in place because passengers had to climb steps to get to the plane. There was no aerobridge in operation for that flight.
Another low-cost carrier, Tiger Airways, was also in the news last year after an Australian family wasn’t allowed to board a flight because of their wheelchair-bound daughter.
The airline has since announced measures to help wheelchair-bound passengers.