Sunday 25 August 2019

Ryanair apologises to prominent Human Rights activist after he was stopped boarding flight

Continuing Brexit uncertainty will have hit demand for outbound air travel as the summer season gets under way, according to Davy Stockbrokers. Stock Image: PA
Continuing Brexit uncertainty will have hit demand for outbound air travel as the summer season gets under way, according to Davy Stockbrokers. Stock Image: PA
Ian Begley

Ian Begley

Ryanair has apologised to a prominent human rights activist after he was refused from boarding a flight to Dublin.

Iyad El-Baghdadi (40s), who became well known for his reports during the 2010 Arab Spring, was denied boarding at Berlin airport this morning, despite being in possession of the appropriate travel documents. 

He claimed he was denied passage because he was a refugee and tweeted an appeal to his 122,000 followers to "make some noise" about the incident. 

"I’m at the airport in Berlin and I’m being denied boarding by Ryanair because I’m a refugee," he said. 

"I’m heading to Dublin. The Irish government website says I can travel but Ryanair says I can’t. If you love me, make some noise." 

Born in Kuwait and raised in the UAE, Mr El-Baghdadi secured political asylum in Norway in 2015. 

In a subsequent Tweet, the activist wrote that he didn’t blame the Ryanair gate agents or the supervisor for the incident. 

"Institutional discrimination is structural and not personal. 

"I don’t feel good about them, but I don’t hate them or fault them. My insults were directed at Ryanair, not a particular person." 

In a statement to Independent.ie, Ryanair said that Mr El-Baghdadi was denied boarding because of an "error" made by the airline’s handling agent in Berlin. 

"Ryanair has since made contact with the customer directly and he will travel with us later today. 

"We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused," a spokesperson said. 

Mr El-Baghdadi later confirmed that he was scheduled to arrive in Dublin at 7.45pm this evening, more than seven hours after his original flight. 

"Now I’m thinking about all the refugees who do not have 122k followers on Twitter and don’t get such call backs," he added.

Mr El-Baghdadi had travelled to the capital for a meeting, but as a result of the oversight, he will spend less than 24 hours in the country before returning to Oslo. 

According to the Department of Justice’s website, holders of a Convention travel document are permitted for short stays of up to 90 days in Ireland. 

Holders of such documents are exempt from Irish visa requirements for short stays if they are issued by a European State which is a contracting party to the "European Agreement on the Abolition of Visas for Refugees". 

Norway is included as one of the countries on this list. 

The Irish Refugee Council responded to Mr El-Baghdadi on Twitter, saying that it was "not the first time" it has heard of people being refused travel. 

"Perhaps more training and awareness raising needed for ground staff," a spokesperson wrote.

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