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EasyJet faces handicapped discrimination charges in French court

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Budget airline EasyJet faced a French court on Friday, accused of discrimination against handicapped people. The case arises from EasyJet’s refusal to allow three unaccompanied French people in wheelchairs on flights in 2008 and 2009.

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The company operates “a commercial policy which consists of squeezing running costs to the maximum and, if a discriminatory policy is necessary for that, too bad”, according to prosecutor Abdelkrim Grini, who wants EasyJet to be fined 70,000 euros.

The company, whose website boasts that safety is "our no 1 priority" claims to be following a European and British code of practice that allegedly stipulates that passengers who are not autonomous must be refused the right to board airplanes.

“Handicapped passengers must be able to put on oxygen masks and lifebelts and fasten and unfasten seatbelts, understand emergency instructions and leave the plane unassisted,” an EasyJet official told the court.

One of the plaintiffs, Laurent Giammartini, says he has already travelled with several airlines, while another Karine Vera points out that she looks after a one-year-old child and drives a car.

“I can’t see how I’m different from other passengers,” she said Friday.

Another, similar, case will be brought against EasyJet in March next year.

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