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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 February, 2005, 15:19 GMT
Airlines face discrimination ban
Bob Ross
Mr Ross was charged 18 for using the wheelchair at Stansted Airport
New moves to stop airlines discriminating against disabled people were announced by the European Commission on Wednesday.

The measures follow a row involving a disabled passenger who was charged 18 by Ryanair to use a wheelchair at Stansted Airport.

Proposals unveiled in Brussels would outlaw charging disabled air passengers for any special help they need.

It would also be illegal to refuse boarding because of disability.

About seven million European airline passengers need special help every year.

Half-mile journey

Bob Ross, of Islington, North London, who has cerebral palsy and arthritis, needed the wheelchair for the half-mile journey from check-in desk to departure gate and objected to paying for its use.

Ryanair blamed the Stansted operating company, BAA, which charged for the wheelchair and, last December, the Court of Appeal ruled that both were guilty of breaching the Disability Discrimination Act.

A judge ordered them to share the cost of the 1,336 compensation awarded to Mr Ross against Ryanair at an earlier hearing.

Mr Ross's Euro MP, Richard Howitt, leader of the European Parliament's Disability Rights Group, welcomed the Commission proposals and warned follow MEPs to resist any efforts to water them down.

The plans for special measures for disabled travellers were unveiled on the eve of a package of EU-wide rules coming into force.

They guarantee compensation to all European air travellers who find themselves "bumped" from over-booked flights or delayed by cancellations without good reason.

The compensation measures apply to all flights, including charters, operated by European airlines to or from any European airport.

Why is the Ryanair case important?
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