The Civil Aviation Authority has opened an investigation into the allegation of discrimination against the disabled made by BBC journalist Frank Gardner against Kenya Airways.
On May 4, Frank Gardner reached London Heathrow airport to board the Kenya Airways service to Nairobi.
Gardner, who is part paralyzed following an attempt on his life in 2004, makes use of wheelchairs and a Zimmer frame to walk short distances or stand.
At check in, Mr Gardner was told he would not be allowed to board the flight unless he was accompanied, as his Zimmer frame was not fit to be used on board the aircraft. The BBC's correspondent was also told by the airline he would have to ask friends to help him to the toilet, or be catheterized before the flight.
“I kind of expected to come across this sort of thing once I got to Africa, but I did not expect it at Heathrow Terminal 4," Gardner told the Media. “Essentially, they were sentencing me not to have any bodily functions for eight hours unless I could get other passengers to help me."
Frank Gardner's credentials and his friends' protest were the determining factor in allowing the BBC presenter on board the Kenya Airways flight.
If Gardner's allegations were to be confirmed, Kenya Airways would be found in violation of Regulation (EC) 1107/2006, which identifies rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air. All airlines departing from the EU have to comply with the regulation.
On Sunday, Reduced Mobility Rights referred Frank Gardner's experience to the Civil Aviation Authority for review.
On Tuesday, the CAA said they are opening an investigation into the incident. “As the UK’s enforcement body for the EU regulations protecting people of reduced mobility when they travel, we were concerned to read about Mr Gardner’s situation," A spokesperson for the CAA told Reduced Mobility Rights. "We will investigate what happened with a view to taking further action with the airline concerned if it is appropriate.”
Kenya Airways was not available for comment. The flag carrier of Kenya operates a fleet of 34 aircraft to 56 destinations. The African airline is a member of Sky Team alliance, which comprises KLM and Air France among others.