Last Updated: Tuesday, May 13, 2008 | 12:08 PM ET Comments37Recommend41
The Council of Canadians with Disabilities is hailing a recent Federal Court of Appeal ruling that rejected a bid by Air Canada and WestJet challenging the one-person, one-fare policy. The airlines had argued charging a single fare to disabled passengers and their attendents would be a financial hardship. The court rejected their appeal in a ruling handed down on May 5. Pat Danforth, chair of council’s transportation committee, says the ruling will bring air travel in line with other modes of transportation in Canada.
“It [will] allow them to travel at no cost,” Danforth said. “It’s the same kind of policy that is already in place with rail and interprovincial busing where if you require an attendant in order to travel, then that cost is covered. ”
The airlines now have one year to comply with the ruling. In January, the Canadian Transportation Agency ruled the airlines must offer a single fare to travellers with disabilities and attendants who travel with them.
The Council of Canadians with Disabilities in 2002 lodged a formal complaint along with two individuals, Joanne Neubauer of Victoria and Eric Norman of Gander, N.L.
Neubauer, who has rheumatoid arthritis, said she couldn’t afford to travel without an attendant.
Norman, who had to travel frequently to Toronto, felt the pricing policy was unjust.
“He felt that it basically wasn’t fair that he was having to pay twice to get the medical treatment he needed,” Danforth said.
Norman died in 2006 of cancer.