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Airline admits fault in wheelchair row

Airline admits fault in wheelchair row

Following a firestorm of negative publicity, Cambodian carrier Bassaka Air has agreed to reimburse a disabled passenger $240 for a boarding fee.

The controversy erupted after the airline demanded the cash on top of a $45 airline ticket from Sudanese national Rahma El Siddig Gasm Elbari Mustafa, to “ambulift” her wheelchair on and off a September 19 flight from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh.

When questioned over the charges by the government’s Disability Action Council (DAC), Bassaka claimed that it had been compelled to request the sum due to fees imposed by Cambodia Airport Management Service Company (CAMS).

However, a statement issued by DAC secretary general Em Chan Makara on Monday following discussion with CAMS clarified that it had requested no such fee and that Bassaka has accepted responsibility for the error.

A subsequent letter from Bassaka director Wern Cheun confirmed the reimbursement and expressed the company’s remorse for the “unintentional incident”, which it attributed to a miscommunication with CAMS.

“The company will implement the free lifting service . . . in the three international airports,” the letter confirmed.

Sun Srey Touch, an officer from Cambodia’s Disabled People’s Organization, welcomed the company’s good will and respect for disabled rights. “It has started to acknowledge disability laws and we hope that it will continue obeying these,” she said.

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