theSun reports the audio recording on 25 December 2012 and follows up on 3 January 2013 with MAHB’s positive response to Aruna Sena’s #198Action exposing Firefly. (Heard through the FB grapevine a test case may be filed by the disabled community soon.)
Disabled community accuses airline of discrimination
Elly Fazaniza and Trinity Chua
PETALING JAYA (Dec 25, 2012): An audio recording between a ticketing officer from budget airline Firefly Sdn Bhd and an individual posing as a wheelchair-bound passenger that went viral has resulted in an outcry from the disabled community over the airline’s neglect of their needs.
Malaysian Association for the Blind committee member Mohd Faisal Che Yusoff said the recording is just the tip of the iceberg.
“The bigger picture is that all public transportation and services are inadequately equipped to accommodate persons with disabilities,” he told theSun when contacted yesterday.
The six-minute phone conversation between activist Aruna Sena and the Firefly staff was first posted on a blog on Dec 17 and went viral on Facebook and other social networking sites.
When Aruna informed the airline staff he was wheelchair-bound, he was told assistance would be provided to him to reaching the aircraft but he would have to embark and leave the aircraft on his own.
Aruna said he recorded the conversation to raise the issue of lack of compliance of public transportation with legal requirements such as the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2006.
Firefly Sdn Bhd corporate communications spokesman D. Kalpana, when contacted, said although the airline does accommodate wheelchair-bound passengers, they must inform the airline 48 hours before departure for arrangements to be made.
Kalpana said the airline has policies to assist passengers “right up to/from their aircraft seat”.
Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee said Section 27 of the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 provides that such persons shall have the right to access to, and use of, public transport, and should apply to air transportation as well.
Facilities at airports for PWDs
PETALING JAYA (Jan 3, 2013): The government is drafting a code of practice for airports and airlines to accommodate persons with disabilities (PWDs).
Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) told theSun recently that once the code is approved, it would be implemented as a standard practice to facilitate services rendered to PWDs.
MAHB in a statement said the transport committee for the disabled, set up by the Transport Ministry to draft the code, consists of PWDs stakeholders, associations, airlines, MAHB and agencies under the ministry.
The committee has conducted audits on the accessibility of facilities for PWDs and has held a series of meetings with the relevant stakeholders, and also site and ground inspections of all PWD-friendly facilities provided by airports and airlines.
However, the outcome of the audit and discussions have yet to be revealed.
MAHB said this in a response to a Dec 25 article in theSun on an audio recording of an exchange between a budget airline ticketing officer and an activist, posing as a wheelchair-bound passenger, that went viral online.
The officer told the activist that although assistance would be provided for him to reach the aircraft, he would have to embark and leave the aircraft on his own, and that wheelchair-bound passengers must inform the airline 48 hours before departure for the necessary arrangements to be made.
MAHB said if an aerobridge is not provided, airlines would provide an ambulift (a vehicle used to lift a disabled passenger) to assist their passengers.
While it is not mandatory for airports to have the facility, it is “preferable” for aircrafts to have aerobridges (which they can rent from the airport) under the International Standards and Recommended Practices Annex 9 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation under chapter 8 (G) on facilitation of the transport passengers requiring special assistance.