Government Morally Siding with Those Who Bully Disabled Passengers, According to Mobility Rights

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Mobility Rights, a group focused on providing disabled passengers and people with reduced mobility information about their travel rights contends that the Department for Transport is trailing several years behind other EU countries and ignoring calls to adopt civil sanctions to tackle discrimination of disabled traveling by air by announcing it is still considering adopting adequate instruments to enforce the law protecting the rights of disabled passengers.

The Status Quo is unacceptable. Adequate enforcement powers and civil sanctions must be available to ensure disabled access in aviation.

In what Mobility Rights is calling an appalling statement, the Department for Transport says the adoption of adequate enforcement instruments to protect disabled passengers rights will be further delayed.

Disabled access to aviation is a hot topic in the travel industry and beyond. The tourism industry is also concerned in ensuring there are sufficient levels of assistance to support the travel needs of an ageing population.

The travel industry, consumer associations and charities often call on lawmakers to ensure adequate legal framework is in place to guarantee the rights of passengers with reduced mobility and disabled holidaymakers.

With the sole exception of the UK, all EU countries adopted civil penalties when EC 1107/2006 came into force. The UK adopted a statutory instrument, S.I. 2007, No. 1895, granting the Civil Aviation Authority criminal enforcement powers only.

In spite of several hundred disabled passengers serious complaints since the law first came into force in 2008, Mobility Rights points out the regulation has never been enforced.

Dame Deirdre Hutton, Chair of the Civil Aviation Authority explains why. "We do have enforcement powers, but these are limited to the ability to take a criminal prosecution. Unfortunately, [enforcement] powers are not very flexible or proportionate and make it difficult for us to take action."

"EC Regulation 1107/2006 is directly applicable, and the Civil Aviation Authority has criminal penalty powers to enforce the Regulation in the UK," a spokesperson for the Department for Transport told Reduced Mobility Rights on Tuesday. "The Department is currently considering supplementing these powers with additional civil sanctions, although this will be subject to the necessary parliamentary clearances being secured."

Despite the massive human implications, the DfT has shown remarkable determination to ignore the problem for years, says Mobility Rights. To better avoid calls to adopt civil sanctions, they have mastered the art of procrastinating by stating they are "considering the possibility," the group contends.

EU Commission Vice President and Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas are of the opinion that the adoption of civil sanctions is highly recommended in order to have full respect of the Regulation.

The Consumer Council for Northern Ireland called the Department of Transport to deliver a range of civil sanctions available to the CAA.

"The status quo is clearly unacceptable. The government must recognize the problem and provide the Civil Aviation Authority with civil sanctions with haste. Until changes are introduced the government will be morally supporting those who bully, humiliate and discriminate disabled passengers," Roberto Castiglioni, founder of Reduced Mobility Rights said.

According to Castiglioni, MPs and Lords of all parties have the moral obligation to maintain pressure on Downing Street until the necessary enforcement mechanism is delivered. Mainstream Media has the moral obligation to ensure public awareness on the issue.

Reduced Mobility Rights calls on individual MPs and Lords, mainstream Media, disabled associations, Grassroots and campaigners to join the effort to assure enforceability of the rights of all disabled people and passengers with reduced mobility traveling by air.

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About Reduced Mobility Rights:
Founded in 2011, the Reduced Mobility Rights website focuses on providing disabled passengers, people with reduced mobility, their carers, and all those interested in this issue information about their travel rights, exclusive articles, reports on cases of discrimination and degradation of disabled travelers. Reduced Mobility Rights editor-in-chief Roberto Castiglioni is an expert of PRM regulations and handling procedures, and has personal experience as a travelling companion and carer of a passenger with reduced mobility. Castiglioni is a member of the Easyjet Special Assistance Advisory Group, ESAAG, which provides Easyjet with strategic guidance and practical advice on the evolving needs of passengers requiring special assistance.

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Roberto Castiglioni

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