09/25/2011

Air Méditteranée won't accept deaf people

Last Wednesday the press in France reported on a refusal by Air Méditteranéé to transport a group of deaf people. Will we, at some time, only be accepted with a certificate of perfect health?


The reports, including one in Le Monde, reported that 22 persons belonging to the Marseille Association of deaf people, were not allowed to board the aircraft of Air Méditteranée for a flight from Marseille to Turkey: an employee of the company decided that they represented a risk to security.

This phrase "for reasons of security" is often used to hide a multitude of sins. In this case the company claimed that its rules for deaf and dumb people required that they be treated as handicapped persons, requiring one special cabin staff person for each group of 5 people. This excuse did not at all please the passengers concerned, who felt that they were being treated like second-class idiots, and the offer to fly them to Lyon (not over water!) and then find a flight to Turkey did not impress them either. Their statement that they had previously flown without any special measures being needed had no effect on the company.

Together with other reported cases of disabled people being refused access unless accompanied by an able person, one begins to get the feeling that in order for some airlines to operate with a minimum number of in-flight personnel, it begins to look as if we will not be able to fly unless we can produce a valid, recent certificate from our doctor that says that we have no known health problems or disabilities. I have to have such a certificate to play golf, or exercise other sporting activities, in France, but I have never felt the need to take it to the airport with me.

Marseille airport was also of interest last week because of a previously unknown airline operating between there and Geneva. On Tuesday the departures board indicated flight DNM3809 of the Dutch company "Denim Air" to Marseille, using a Fokker 50. This is the first time that this company has used Geneva airport, and the aircraft had to come here (empty) prior to  going to Marseille. Curiously, the return flight, DNM 3810, only arrived back in Geneva just before midnight the following day. I also remember seeing at one time the arrivals board saying that it had been cancelled, but maybe that was for the Tuesday evening.

The aircraft itself, registration PH-JXK, has changed hands several times since it was built in 1991. Denim Air first acquired it in 2003, but then passed it on to Air Nostrum the next year. In 2007 it went to Virgin Nigeria, returning to Denim Air in 2009. In 2010 it went to Air Affaires Gabon, but has seemingly again returned to Air Denim: 10 changes of ownership since 1991!

Marseille airport, like Geneva, has a residents association which has put in place the same type of aircraft trajectory tracking and two noise measurement stations in order to be better informed when making protests.

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