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French court fines Easyjet for stopping disabled passenger boarding

EasyJet aircrafts sitting on the tarmac at Orly airport.
EasyJet aircrafts sitting on the tarmac at Orly airport. Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

A French court has fined British low-cost airline EasyJet 60,000 euros for refusing to allow a disabled passenger to board for "security" reasons.

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The court in Bayonne, south-west France, heard that staff at the budget carrier refused to allow Joseph Etcheveste, 55, to board an EasyJet flight in Biarritz in July 2010 because he was "unaccompanied".

"EasyJet refused to let my client board because it deemed there were security problems," said his lawyer Anne-Marie Mendiboure. "They still have not been able to explain what they were."

Friday's judgement is not the first time Easyjet has fallen foul of French discrimination laws.

In December 2015 the company was fined 70,000 euros for refusing access to three disabled people for the same reason.

There were also similar rulings in the two previous years.

The airline said it had merely imposed "internal rules".

Etcheveste was an associate of former Basque separatist leader Philippe Bidart and was partially paralysed when he was shot in the spine as he was being arrested by French police in 1987.

EasyJet lawyer Maud Marian told the AFP news agency she was not surprised by the court judgement while stressing that the airline "never intended to discriminate against the plaintiff" and was unlikely to appeal the decision.

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