13 April, 2008
AirAsia launched its first ambulift at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) here to allow disabled passengers to board the aircraft instead of being physically carried into the plane by AirAsia workers.
The airline bought two ambulifts, one to be placed at LCCT and another one at Kota Kinabalu airport.
Ambulift is a lift that is attached to the back of a van to lift passengers from the aircraft to the ground so they do not have to use the steps.
Nine months ago, members of the Barrier-Free Environment and Accessible Transport Group (BEAT) representing the disabled community gathered at the LCCT to protest the carrier's "discriminatory" policy and demanded disabled-friendly services by AirAsia.
They asked the airline to provide an ambulift to allow disabled passengers to board the aircraft instead of being physically carried into the plane by AirAsia workers.
Disabled-friendly move: An AirAsia flight attendant posing with disabled people in front of the new ambulift at the LCCT at the KL International Airport on Saturday.
Former Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy then ordered Malaysia Airports Berhad and AirAsia to solve the problem.
AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandez said providing the ambulift was only one part of their initiatives to be disabled-friendly.
He said they were also in talks with Malaysia Airports to provide free aerobridge usage at airports that do not have ambulifts and give staff hands-on training by engaging those from the disabled community.
"We will also enhance our services and accessibility where possible and we hope to set the example for other LCCTs and airlines to work towards an improved environment for our disabled friends," he said.
However, he hoped Malaysia Airports would improve airport facilities and provide level walkways and designated car parks.
Fernandez also said that the AirAsia's A320 aircraft could only take a maximum of four disabled guests per flight and two of the seats could accommodate quadriplegic flyers.
BEAT coordinator Christina Lee welcomed AirAsia's move to introduce disability equality training for the cabin crew and staff.
"This will give them a better understanding of "disability" issues as well as tips on how to relate to and assist disabled passengers," she said.
This article is a verbatim copy of the original article from The Star.