Romania’s flag carrier TAROM has apologised for calling people with speech impairments "dumb" on its website.
Last week, Reduced Mobility Rights published the result of a review on information Romania’s airlines provide passengers with disabilities. The Eastern European National carrier TAROM was found in breach of EU disability discrimination rules.
On Wednesday, Reduced Mobility Rights received a note from TAROM. “We thank you because you brought to our attention the regrettable mistake in the content of the website page dedicated to the information for passengers with disabilities,” a spokesperson for the airline said.
The mandatory dedicated special assistance page was not found on TAROM Air website. “The page mentioned in your article dedicated to this kind of service was all the time on our website, but due to our continuous updates [was not found],” the spokesperson said.
The airline also apologised for addressing people with cognitive impairments as “dumb passengers”. “We apologize for the very bad translation that you found it in our website regarding speech impaired passengers, which was a regrettable mistake that has been corrected immediately,” the TAROM spokesperson added.
Provided there is no such thing as a wheelchair accessible airline, TAROM positions itself among the shortlist of airlines imposing severe restrictions for passengers requiring the use of an aisle chair to enplane or deplane the aircraft.
WCHC passengers are not accepted on ATR 42 and ATR 72 aircraft, maximum two passengers can travel on Boeing 737 aircraft and maximum six on Airbus 318 aircraft. It is unclear if these passengers are required to produce a medical certificate at check-in.
“Restrictions in place for ATR 42/72 aircraft are because these aircraft do not have folding armrests, allowing passengers with reduce mobility to seat,” TAROM said. “Restrictions on other type of aircraft are also connected with this aspect.”
The eastern European carrier said its regulations are drafted in the spirit of safety and in compliance with EC Regulation no. 1107/2006 of the European Parliament and Air Code, laws that allow the air operator to refuse to transport a passenger when passengers’ flight safety conditions may be affected.
“TAROM does not discriminate its passengers under no circumstance,” the airline’s spokesperson said. “Our respect for the passengers and their needs is a basic reference in our work; our main concern is to provide our passengers the best services, to offer them safe and comfortable flights.”
On 17 July we took a new look at the TAROM website's special assistance page. The page is still hard to find. There is no direct link from the “passenger information” tab. To find it, one must choose the “about your trip” tab in the “passenger information” sub-menu, then again choose “people with disabilities”.
By comparison, budget airline Wizz Air has an easily accessible link to the “passengers with special needs” section on the home page of its website.
The language of TAROM’s special assistance page is also very hard to understand. As it reads, we are to believe a passenger with severe reduced mobility who requires an aisle chair to enplane or deplane must produce a medical certificate at check-in.
Either the language is incorrect, or TAROM is breaching EU disability discrimination regulation. Whichever the case, TAROM's apology is a step in the right direction, but more are needed to bring the airline up to standards.