May 4, 2012

Jetstar out of pocket even if it wins wheelchair appeal

JETSTAR may well be pondering how many extra wheelchairs it could have provided for disabled passengers, as it weighs the dollar cost of what constitutes ''public interest'' in a disability discrimination stoush in the Federal Court.

Jetstar and Virgin Australia have been accused of discrimination by Sheila King, 78, who is reliant on a wheelchair as a result of post-polio syndrome, and a car crash in 2008. At stake is the business model of the low-cost airlines, which restrict wheelchair-assisted passengers to two per flight.

It was Jetstar's tight margins as a low-cost operator that convinced Federal Court judge Justice Alan Robertson that although Mrs King had been discriminated against, Jetstar was allowed to do so because of ''unjustifiable hardship'' provisions. Mrs King has appealed.

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