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Charity Urges Boycott of Ryanair

Editor's Note: This article is reprinted from BBC News, UK, October 14, 2005:

A disability group is calling for a boycott of budget airline, Ryanair, after a group of blind and partially sighted passengers was ordered off a flight. The group of nine, from Norwich, were told to get off the plane at Stansted because the flight was over its quota for disabled people.

Scope, a leading UK disability charity, urged disabled and non-disabled people to blacklist Ryanair.

Since the incident in March became public this week, the airline has also had its nomination for a prestigious disability-friendly award withdrawn by the charities, Sense and Deafblind UK. The panel of judges behind the Deaf-blind Friendly Corporate Awards decided to withdraw the company's nomination for a prize. The airline was down to the last three in the travel and transport category of the awards, due to be presented later this month.

Calling for a boycott of the airline, Scope's chief executive, Tony Manwaring, said: "Ryanair has been warned time and time again that its treatment of disabled people is simply unacceptable--but it seems they have their heads in the clouds. It's time the public clipped their wings."

Ryanair has said it has a quota of four disabled people on flights for safety reasons and believed its policy was in line with other airlines.

A spokeswoman said the airline would not be commenting on the call for a boycott or the withdrawal of the award nomination, but insisted the quota system would stay.

She added: "This limit was originally agreed with the UK's Disability Rights Commission for safety reasons.

"This is so our crew can attend to these passengers individually in the case of emergency evacuations."

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