SP: European Commission must take action on KLM-Airfrance 'Obesitax'

21 January 2010

SP: European Commission must take action on KLM-Airfrance 'Obesitax'

SP European Parliament group leader Dennis de Jong has asked the European Commission for its comments on KLM-Airfrance's stated intention to introduce an extra charge - dubbed an 'obesitax' - for seriously overweight people. “In Europe there are rules which protect the rights of people with a handicap who are travelling by air. Obesity is seen by the World Health Organisation, quite rightly, as an illness. People suffering from obesity should be helped, but instead they are going to be punished by KLM-Airfrance. I want to know whether the Commission is going to hold the airline to the rules.”

Dennis de Jong KLM-Airfrance says that it is introducing the 'obesitax' for the comfort and safety of other passengers, but, as De Jong points out, the proposal 'is in direct conflict with Article 10 of European Commission Regulation 11072006, which states quite clearly that people with a disability and those with limited mobility have a right to assistance at no additional charge. This means that people who are obese must be offered a seat in which they can travel in a decent and dignified fashion. I expect the Commission to follow through on its own rules.”

Emile Roemer, a member of the Dutch national parliament for the SP and the party's spokesman on transport issues, earlier today asked Transport Minister Camiel Eurlings to comment on the affair, pointing out that being overweight could have many causes. It was too simplistic to see it as the person's own fault. Small people could fit two to a seat, but they didn't get a reduction! Will we soon see a situation in which pregnant women will also have to pay a surcharge? It was clear, Roemer concluded, that what we had here was a clear case of discrimination.

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