Moscow, Oct 9 (IANS/RIA Novosti) A pilot of a German airlines refused passage to six Russian wheelchair users heading to a seminar in Germany about improving accessibility in urban spaces, a Russian lawmaker said.
A 34-member delegation was set to depart from Moscow’s Domodedovo airport on an AirBerlin flight to Dusseldorf, said State Duma deputy and delegation member Vladimir Krupennikov.
But the pilot refused to fly with more than two wheelchair users on board, citing the carrier’s internal safety regulations, said Krupennikov, himself a wheelchair user.
In the end, 11 group members, including six wheelchair users, failed to board the plane and had to find another flight to Dusseldorf, he said.
Those stranded are planning to sue AirBerlin for damages, Krupennikov said.
He said the company had one month’s warning that a large group of people with special needs will be flying, and had given written authorisation.
The carrier did not comment on the incident. Its press service could not be reached by telephone or email by RIA Novosti.
Alexander Lomakin-Rumyantsev, who heads the All-Russia Society for the Disabled, said AirBerlin generally takes a positive attitude toward people with special needs, and Monday’s incident may have been a “misunderstanding”.
Many similar incidents have happened in Russia in the past. In April, Vladivostok Air refused a woman with only one leg passage from Moscow to Ulan-Ude. The carrier S7 lost two lawsuits in 2008 and 2009 over refusing to let disabled people on board.