Disabled to keep fighting for better EU air services

Mon Jul 4, 2011 10:50am EDT
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By Alysha Love

BRUSSELS (Reuters Life!) - Rights campaigners say they will have to keep on fighting to improve the treatment of disabled people when flying in Europe, after a meeting with the European Union's top transport official yielded little progress.

"This is going to take years and years to break down the discrimination that persons with disabilities are facing every day," Stig Langvad, of the European Disability Forum (EDF), said on Monday.

EU officials met the campaigning group, representing roughly 80 million disabled Europeans, last week to discuss the difficulties facing passengers in wheelchairs when flying in the 27-member bloc.

But the EDF said it won little in the meeting with Siim Kallas, the EU transport commissioner.

"Kallas was not really keen on looking into the perspective of how the implementation (of disability rights laws) is going," Langvad told Reuters.

Airlines have been the target of a string of pending lawsuits over practices when dealing with disabled travelers.

But Langvad said there had been little progress in trying to make airlines apply existing passenger rights laws consistently throughout member states or ensure that equipment such as wheelchairs are handled properly by airport staff.

The EDF will continue lobbying the EU's transport directorate to regulate compliance with existing laws and improve airline staff training, Langvad said.   Continued...