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Disabled people stage protest against Ryanair in Spain for 'systematic discrimination'

A statement from the airline said the claims were untrue and that the protest was baseless.

Image: Shutterstock/Rebius

MORE THAN 250 people with disabilities staged a protest against Ryanair at Adolfo-Suárez-Madrid Barajas Airport on Saturday afternoon.

Spanish newspaper El País reports that the protesters accused the airline of “systematically and permanently” discrimination against disabled travellers by adding unnecessary obstacles in order to board their flight.

The protest was organised by the Spanish Committee of Representatives of Disabled People (CERMI), after the group received multiple complaints about the low-cost airline.

The group’s president, Luis Cayo Pérez Bueno, said: “The airline conjures up hare-brained security reasons and, without any kind of social commitment, excludes disabled passengers directly, either by not allowing them to board, or by obliging them to bring a travel companion at their own expense.

It uses an abusive and discriminatory European rule to tell us, as passengers, that we aren’t welcome.

He cited the case of Javier García Pajares, a deaf and blind Spanish student attempted to return home for Christmas from London. It is claimed that he was not allowed to travel for security reasons.

Cayo Pérez said: “The case of our friend Javier García Pajares is proof of something devastating that it wants us to accept as natural. It is the moment to tell them that low-cost cannot be translated into fewer human rights.”

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, a Ryanair spokesperson said: “These claims are untrue and this protest was baseless.

Thousands of passengers who require special assistance choose to travel with Ryanair on a weekly basis and do so without issue and we are proud of the service we provide to all of our customers, which we are continually improving.

They added that Pajares had been contacted by customer service, who had asked him for documentation to make sure he complied with the required security measures that allowed him to travel without a companion.

The spokesperson said: “Upon receipt of this confirmation (some seven days later), we confirmed he would be permitted to travel, however he chose not to.”

In a letter sent to CERMI, and seen by TheJournal.ie, Ryanair’s chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs confirmed that a refund had been provided for the unused airfare.

Read: Backlash after Ryanair mocks Aer Lingus link to illegal immigrants

Read: Ryanair says teaming up with Norwegian ‘makes sense’ – but it’s low on the to-do list

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Sean Murray

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