The High Court has awarded a disabled woman Sh4.4 million after she was denied access to a Fly540 plane at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
Justice Lucy Njuguna ruled that Jane Njeri Mwangi was discriminated and humiliated by the airline staff, who asked her to either walk up the stairs or be carried by the crew.
The judge said the airline violated Ms Mwangi’s rights to dignity, freedom of movement and access to public services as guaranteed by the Constitution and the Persons with Disabilities Act.
Ms Mwangi had booked a flight to Mombasa to attend a workshop on April 20, 2016.
She arrived at the airport three hours before departure and checked in her luggage.
However, when she reached the boarding gate, she was told that the aircraft had no provision for wheelchair users.
The airline’s crew, according to Ms. Mwangi, treated her like a burden, which made her feel embarrassed and degraded.
Subsequently, she was forced to cancel her trip and seek a refund.
She sued Fly540 for compensation, claiming that the airline breached the law and the international standards on the rights of persons with disabilities.
Fly540 denied liability and argued that it had no obligation to provide special facilities for wheelchair users.
It also claimed that Ms Mwangi did not inform the airline of her disability when booking the flight.
The judge dismissed the airline’s defence and said it was clear that Ms Mwangi was discriminated against on the basis of her disability.
Justice Lucy Njuguna said the airline failed to comply with the law and the international standards on the rights of persons with disabilities.
She awarded Ms Mwangi Sh2 million for general damages, Sh2 million for exemplary damages and Sh400,000 for special damages.
She also ordered the airline to cover the cost of the lawsuit.