Africa World Airlines Limited (AWA), has denied the claim that its staff discriminated against a person with disability by preventing her from boarding a flight she had paid for.
AWA believes the unfortunate incident may have been the result of a series of miscommunications that began when the plane ticket was purchased by the aggrieved customer, Rita Kirba.
Rita needs the crutches to help her move around because of her mobility challenges, and she told Citi News that she felt she was denied passage onto the plane because of her disability.
But the airline explained that Rita did not give notice of her mobility issues 48 hours ahead of her May 5 flight to Kumasi to enable AWA to prepare for her, in line with international guidelines.
“We found the service gap to be [due to a] lack of information from the travel agent who sold the ticket to [her] and therefore will address the issue to ensure it does not recur,” AWA assured in a statement.
The Airline assured that it is their standard practice “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.”
According to AWA, the ticket was purchased by a third party that did not inquire about Rita’s physical conditions.
“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).”
Rita says although she tried to reason with the AWA staff on the day of the incident, she was still denied passage onto the plane.
AWA in the statement noted that this was because the Aircraft in question had certain limitations that may have comprised safety standards.
“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 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.”
AWA added that, she “was not in the category of persons with Reduced Mobility we accept on the Embraer Jet 145, and explanations on the procedure were given to her in the presence of her other colleagues, which she understood, per our observation.”