The Barrier-Free Environment and Accessible Transport Group (BEAT) met with AirAsia Group Chief Executive Office Dato’ Tony Fernandes this morning. 16 representatives from various NGOs attended the meeting that resulted from the protest at LCCT-KLIA. From the word go, Datuk Fernandes informed us of his airline’s plans to remove many of the barriers and conditions that are preventing disabled persons from flying with AirAsia.
Group photo of BEAT members with AirAsia GCEO Dato’ Tony Fernandes.
For starters, AirAsia has agreed to purchase 2 ambulifts – one for LCCT-KLIA and the other for Kota Kinabalu Airport. No charges will be imposed for the use of the ambulifts. All aircrafts will be equipped with aisle chairs. Toilets will be equipped with handle bars for people who need to use it.
AirAsia GCEO Dato’ Tony Fernandes presenting the cap to BEAT Coordinator Christine Lee.
Representatives from BEAT were invited to sit in an advisory panel within AirAsia to give recommendations on issues relating to the handling of disabled passengers and acquisitions of equipment for such purposes, and also to provide training for airline staff assisting disabled persons.
The cap that AirAsia GCEO Dato’ Tony Fernandes sealed his commitment to
resolve issue brought forward by BEAT.
Overall, BEAT members were optimistic that we will be able to see changes in how AirAsia deals with disabled persons soon. I played the devil’s advocate and told Dato’ Fernandes that I was sceptical and is still sceptical if issues will be resolved soon until I see the end results.
Assistant BEAT Coordinator Peter Tan with AirAsia GCEO Dato’ Tony Fernandes.
This was because of the bad experiences with RapidKL who made promises that were never delivered and also the empty assurances given by various ministers to resolve the issues that we are facing. Nevertheless, his sincerity in coming to meet us personally was a first positive step.
Dato’ Tony Fernandes poses sportingly with Grace holding one of the banners
that was used during the protest at LCCT-KLIA.
To show his personal commitment that he will work towards sorting out the problems that disabled persons are facing with AirAsia, Dato’ Fernandes autographed the cap that he was wearing and presented it to BEAT Coordinator Christine Lee. The meeting ended in a jovial note. BEAT looks forward to seeing Dato’ Fernandes fulfilling all the promises that he made to us this morning.
40 stage airport protest against AirAsia
Why no access for disabled?
July 19, 2007
ITS tagline is ‘Now Everyone Can Fly’.
Click to see larger image
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.
July 16, 2007 20:33 PM
MAS, AirAsia To Be Asked To Waive Special Aids Fee
KUALA LUMPUR, July 16 (Bernama) — Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and Air Asia are to be asked to do away with the fee imposed for the use of special aids such as wheelchairs by physically challenged people.
A fee of RM12 is imposed currently for the use of a wheelchair, Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Azlan Sultan Abu Bakar said when winding up debate on the Carriage By Air (Amendment) Bill 2007 in the Dewan Negara today.
Several senators had brought up the matter, saying it was unfair to impose the fee.
The bill was approved. The senate also passed the Malaysian Qualifications Agency Bill 2007.
The Dewan Negara will sit again tomorrow.