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REJOINDER: AWA ALLEGEDLY PREVENTS ‘CRIPPLE’ FROM BOARDING FLIGHT

todayAugust 15, 2021

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7th May 2018 | Elizabeth Sasu

Our attention has been drawn to media reports from some media houses and on social media on an article on Saturday, 5th May 2018, by classfmonline under the above title. In the article, it was alleged Africa World Airlines (AWA) prevented Rita Kriba, a person with disability, from boarding their flight because of her condition, portraying the airline as unsympathetic and hostile towards the physically challenged with our policy. We are obligated to respond to correct the misinformation portrayed to forestall further misleading of the travelling public and to limit the damage to our reputation.

Firstly, Madam Rita mentioned that, she purchased her ticket from a travel agency and was not informed which we find unfortunate and cannot fathom why she wasn’t informed. It is part of our practise to ask all passengers whether they would need assistance during the reservation process. We find it strange that she was not asked these questions during the reservation process, so we contacted the Travel Agency (AfroWings) to find out why this happened. In their response, the ticket was purchased by a third party and they did not ask the conditions of the travellers. This brings us to the fact that Madam Rita should also have notified the agent of her condition for the necessary information to be relayed to the airline as per the international general rule on the acceptance of Persons with Reduced Mobility (PRMs).

To set the records straight, our aircraft type has structural limitations for carrying certain categories of wheelchair passengers as such, it is boldly written at all our sales points and in our terms of carriage that we only accept the WCHR category (wheelchair passenger who needs assistance on only the ramp) of wheelchair passengers.  The purpose is solely for safety reasons during times of emergency.

While checking Ms. Kriba in, as part of our standard operating procedures, she was asked if she could climb the stairs without being assisted when she responded she will need her mobility aid.   Per her responses, it was agreed that she was not in the category of Persons with Reduced Mobility (PRMs) we accept on the Embraer Jet 145 and explanations on the procedure was given her in the presence of her other colleagues which she understood per our observation. Ms. Kriba was with three other passengers, further checks from our system showed two of them travelled and refund was requested by her travel agent for her ticket on her behalf.

 

We wish to re-emphasize here per the international guidelines ‘’ Aircraft and airport operators should ensure that services are provided to persons with disabilities as long as a request is made at least 48 hours prior to departure’’ which wasn’t the case here, and these guidelines are set up to give the airline room to prepare sufficiently to serve the physically challenged.

We found the service gap to be lack of information from the Travel Agent who sold the ticket to her and therefore will address the issue and ensure it does not recur.

Africa World Airlines is a reputable airline which has invested immensely in the integrity of its brand. We do hope to bring clarity to this publication and to assure the public we are sympathetic to the physically challenged. We only have structural limitations to our aircraft and will act in the interest of safety of all passengers anytime and in times of emergency.

We apologise without prejudice to Madam Rita Kriba and assure her steps have been taken to close such service gaps in our operations.

 

Source: gh-aviation

Written by: Adwoa Sasu

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