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Airlines Continue To Deny Service To The Disabled


Pavel Obiukh vs. S7 Airlines (Sibir Airlines)

Pavel Obiukh, a staff member of Perspektiva, was refused registration on a Moscow to Kazan flight due to his disability. Sibir Airlines refused to register Obiukh, who is blind, on a flight from Moscow to Kazan. A representative of Perspektiva clarified that Obiukh was supposed to leave for Kazan on a business trip on Wednesday. The departure of flight 026 was planned for 19.45 Moscow time, February 18, but the airline staff turned him away at check in. The justification was Obiukh’s disability. However, the airline was informed in advance about his disability when the ticket was booked. Obiukh filed a lawsuit against the airlines.

On April 28, 2009 Leninsky District Court of the Tula Region (300 kilometers south of Moscow) partially satisfied the claim and ordered Sibir Airlines to pay Obiukh 25000 rubles as punitive damages as well as a fine of 12500 RUB. Obiukh’s interests were represented by the head of Perpsektiva’s legal department, Maxim Larionov, and Diana Sork, a lawyer from the Customers’ Rights Protection Agency.

Representatives of the Agency and the Russian Human Rights Commissioner were present in court and shared their opinions. State Duma Deputy M.B. Terentyev, using the refusal of service to a blind passenger as a springboard, suggested a piece of legislation which would alter the Air Code, which prohibits the refusal of service to people based on their disability.

Unfortunately, the Transport Ministry’s review was negative. Currently, the issue of questioning the Federal Aviation Rules in the Supreme Human Rights Court is being discussed. Last autumn a similar lawsuit against the very same airline was filed by Natalia Prisetskaya, a wheelchair user and a Perspektiva employee. The court ordered the payment of 50,000 RUB in punitive damages. It is worth noting that such cases of discrimination of people with disabilities are not unique to Moscow.

Ukhta: Disability NGO Says: “UTAir” Treats Us Like Animals

In the City of Ukhta, the Republic of Komi, people are demanding equal access to all passengers, a representative of the Ukhta Disability NGO, Svetlana Kaneva, told RIA Novosti. Perspektiva had been cooperating with this NGO for more than 10 years.

According to Kaneva, the reason for addressing the UTAir management was an incident which happened last summer. Kaneva, a 40 years old wheelchair user, needed to go to Moscow to accompany her 16 year old daughter for surgery. When the cashier at the local booking agency, Vertas, saw Kaneva she refused to sell her a ticket.

“The cashier explained that internal regulations of UTAir stated they didn’t have service for people with disabilities, and if such a person managed to find someone to accompany him or her, paying for the additional ticket, the disabled person also had to submit a health certificate. That’s what the agency’s representative said” stated Kaneva.

“In our organization,” Kaneva continued, “we had thoroughly studied UTAir regulations. It turned out that such certificates were required for only one category of passengers, namely animals: turtles, hamsters, and others that are being transported via plane. The certificates were needed to prove that the animals do not bite and are not infectious. And the same requirements are applied to people with disabilities! In addition, these certificates are not issued for free, so this is not only a waste of one’s own time, but of money also.” Kaneva added that she was unable to convince the cashier during three hours of discussion, and she had to leave for Moscow by train.

Alinga Consulting Group

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