While limited mobility passengers in most parts of the world get help, it seems not always with Dana Air in Nigeria.
Disability rights advocates are calling on the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria to improve access for air travelers living with a disability.
Reduced Mobility Rights Limited’s website has posted the call for improved access in Nigeria’s airports. The website details two incidents concerning Nigerian carrier Dana Air, where special-needs passengers were denied boarding.
Dana Air operates seven routes to five destinations in Nigeria. According to ch-aviation.com, it has six aircraft, two Boeing B737-300s, one McDonnell Douglas MD-82 and three McDonnell Douglas MD-83s, which it operates from its base at Murtala Muhammed International Airport (LOS) in Lagos.
What is happening at Nigeria’s Dana Air?
The report says that in 2020, wheelchair-user Chike Okogwu was stopped from boarding a Dana Air flight. The reason was that “Dana Air does not carry special needs passengers at night.” The passenger was offered the option to rebook on the 07:00 flight the next day.
The second incident reported on the website was in 2021 when wheelchair-user Gloria Mary Nwgbo was denied boarding a Dana Air flight because of her disability. She said:
“On getting to the airport Dana Air staff told me I would not board because I am disabled and in a wheelchair, they said it was their protocol. I missed the flight and could not meet up with the appointment.”
In the FAQs section of Dana Air’s website, there are six questions about how passengers with reduced mobility (PRM) can fly with the airline. The first does say that PRMs can fly but that the airline can only accommodate two per flight, so passengers need to indicate their situation when booking their ticket.
However, where a passenger “cannot move from one point to another unaided, a companion is required, and a second ticket should be booked for the individual.” The guide also says:
“Due to our aircraft specifications, passengers who are completely immobile will not be accepted as we do not have the facilities to accommodate such passengers.”
Dana Air will allow passengers to book across the counter but prefers at least 72 hours’ notice before the flight to arrange the necessary equipment.
The law is there but is it enforced?
The Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) is in charge of administering, regulating, and supervising all air transport services in Nigeria. Last week the Coalition for Disability Organisations had a ‘sensitization’ session with FAAN management and other airport-related agencies on the need to improve airport access and amenities for persons with disabilities.
In 2019 Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari enacted the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act. The law imposes sanctions on organizations that discriminate based on disability, which the advocates say is happening in FAAN’s airports.
In the UK, passengers with a disability or reduced mobility are legally entitled to ‘Special Assistance” when traveling by air. UK law stipulates these rights apply when you fly on any airline from a UK airport, fly on an EU or UK registered airline to the UK, or fly from outside of the UK or EU to the EU on a UK carrier.
Special assistance must be available for the journey through the airport, boarding, through the flight, disembarking, transferring between flights and traveling through your destination airport. Similar rights apply in the EU and United States; however, the UK Civil Aviation Authority warns that “there are many parts of the world where similar rights are not available.”
Simple Flying has contacted Dana Air, and we will update the article with any response.