Wheelchair user wins landmark case against airline

Disabled travellers won a major victory at the appeal court this
week when judges said budget airline Ryanair and Stansted airport
must provide a wheelchair service, writes Haroon

Ryanair lodged an appeal after it was ordered to pay damages to
disabled man Bob Ross who they charged for using a wheelchair at
Stansted Airport in Essex.

The airline said since the charge was levied by airport’s owners
the British Airport Authority they should provide a free wheelchair
service not the airline.

However judges said the airline and airport authority had a
joint responsibility to help disabled passengers between the
airline check in and the departure gate.

The case was brought to the Court of Appeal in London on behalf
of Ross by the Disability Rights Commission (DRC).

“It will have an impact on every British airport and
airline and will ensure disabled people receive the same standard
of service as non-disabled travellers”, said the DRC in a

Ryanair wanted the claim to be dismissed but the judges also
said the airport authority was guilty of unlawful discrimination
and should share liability over damages and interest.

In January this year a county court found that Ryanair had
breached the Disability Discrimination Act and ordered it to pay
damages to Ross, 54, who has cerebral palsy and arthritis.

Ross was awarded £1336 compensation, which included the
£36 cost of hiring the wheelchair on the inward and outward
journeys to France.

Stansted Airport said after the ruling it believed it had been
fulfilling its responsibilities to disabled travellers.

It apologised to Ross and said it would do its best to ensure
disabled patients were treated equally.

Ryanair said it was disappointed the court didn’t
establish that the British Airport Authority was responsible for
providing wheelchair access.

This would be in line with practise at 87 of 93 European
airports it used and a draft European disability paper, it

The airline said it would reduce its wheelchair levy by 50 per

DRC legal advisor Clair Gooding said there were 30 similar cases
awaiting the outcome of the Ross case that it hoped could now be
settled with airports and airlines without going to the

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