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France threatens Easyjet with sanctions over disabled passengers

France's transport ministry is mulling sanctions against Easyjet, after the budget carrier repeatedly refused to let unaccompanied disabled passengers on board, citing safety regulations.

Easyjet plane on tarmac

Three paraplegic passengers were turned away by Easyjet

The French government has called for an investigation into why budget airline Easyjet refused to let three disabled French passengers on board unaccompanied. It has also threatened sanctions against the UK-based carrier.

"Easyjet cannot hide behind safety regulations for refusing to board passengers who have difficulty moving around," the French transport ministry said in a statement.

"It must implement solutions adapted to each case, as most companies do. Otherwise it must be sanctioned with the greatest severity." The ministry also said that other airlines had already found appropriate solutions.

One of the affected passengers had lodged a complaint with the French anti-discrimination watchdog HALDE, which has criticized the fact that there is no official regulation on how to deal with disabled passengers.

Safety concerns

A spokeswoman for Easyjet told the French news agency AFP that the airline "was already in discussion with the French government to find a solution that is suitable for our passengers without compromising their security."

The announcement by the French transport ministry comes after three separate incidents, in which paraplegic passengers were not allowed on the plane unaccompanied. The reason given by the airline was that those passengers cannot move without assistance.

Easyjet says it is worried about safety, as regulations oblige it to be able to evacuate an aircraft in 90 seconds. The airline says it is authorized to ask someone to accompany those who need assistance. In one case, however, the carrier refused to let the disabled passenger on board despite a fellow passenger offering to assist.Author: Nicole Goebel (AFP/dpa)
Editor: Andrew Bowen

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