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Fly540 denies forcing bishop to crawl from jet

Fly540 has denied claims that its staff forced a disabled bishop to crawl from a plane while disembarking  at JKIA.

NairobiNews newspaper lead story on Wednesday had disclosed how Bishop Jackson Kosgei of Worldwide Gospel Church of Kenya was forced to crawl from the plane after the airline’s staff said they could not help him get down.

Bishop Kosgei says he was ordered to alight on his own by Fly540 attendants when it landed at JKIA from Eldoret in spite of his disability.

He complained about his treatment to JKIA police and OB No 18/11/5/2014 states that the airline staff refused to allow anybody to support him as he disembarked.

In the NairobiNews article,  the bishop said he was helped by the airline staff to board the plane using a lift while at Eldoret International airport.

On arriving at JKIA, he was told by the staff  that the services were not offered and was forced to crawl.

When contacted on Tuesday evening for comment before the story was published, Fly540 chief executive Don Smith said they do not carry people who cannot physically support themselves.

The local airline however, in a statement on its Facebook page on Wednesday, changed tune and claimed that the bishop had refused to be assisted.

“Our preliminary investigations indicate that in this instance he declined assistance whilst disembarking. Once we have concluded our investigation we will make it available to the relevant authorities,” the statement said.

“Additionally, we are happy to meet the Bishop and discuss how we can make matters easier for him in the future.”

The statement proceeded to explain why the airline’s staff cannot assist disabled passengers who are boarding or disembarking their planes due to lack of insurance cover for possible accidents that may occur.

“Due to the type of our planes, we cannot provide cover for immobile or lift-on/off passengers. The aircrafts in use are not fitted with the special equipment needed for these situations and, as a result, our insurance does not provide cover against any issues that might arise through our employees physically carrying a passenger.

“We are however able to assist wheelchair passengers who can be escorted up to the aircraft door, as long as they are able to climb the stairs – and provided we are informed at the time of booking.”

The airline’s statement only served to stoke the anger of Kenyans on social media.

Gospel musician Emmy Kosgei, daughter of Bishop Kosgei, tweeted: “#fly540 should apologise shame! The CEO said they don’t carry disabled persons, whereas they boarded him. They shud state in their advert.”