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Saudi court orders compensation for Eritrean passenger prevented from boarding a flight | Saudi Gazette

Posted by: Semere Asmelash

Date: Tuesday, 08 March 2022

Saudi court orders compensation for Eritrean passenger prevented from boarding a flight

March 08, 2022
Okaz/Saudi Gazette
RIYADH — A Saudi court did justice to an Eritrean resident passenger by obliging an airline to pay him SR11,000 as compensation for the damage caused to him due to the airline’s refusal to board him on a flight to Spain and then to Mexico.

The Appeals Court has upheld the verdict issued by the Jeddah Administrative Court. Walid Mahmoud, the Eritrean national, who confirmed receipt of the amount of compensation, thanked the Saudi judiciary, stating that the verdict reposed his faith in the judiciary that everyone is equal in front of the law of the land.

According to the judgment, a copy of which was obtained by Okaz/Saudi Gazette, Walid had stated in the lawsuit that his flight was scheduled to depart from Jeddah to Madrid airport and then to Cancun airport in Mexico, the final destination. But the airline prevented him from boarding the flight on the pretext that he did not have a transit visa to Spain.

There is no prerequisite of transit visa for landing in Spain, he pointed out while quoting the guidelines published in the website of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the website of the airline that completed the booking procedures for him.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiff also noted that he had a valid Japanese visa under which there is no need for the issuance of a transit visa, and the denial of travel incurred him financial losses.

Walid indicated that he had lodged a complaint with the Customer Protection Department, the General Authority of Civil Aviation and the air carrier and that the value of the financial losses he suffered amounted to SR11,000 in terms of airfares from Jeddah to Spain and Mexico, as well as losses caused by the cancelation of return tickets to Korea.

The representative of the airline responded to the lawsuit by pleading that the passenger did not have a valid travel visa to Spain or Mexico and thus the airlines prevented him from boarding due to violation of the conditions for travel stipulated in the air transport contract.

The representative also noted that the decision was taken after coordinating with the Federal Customs Authority, represented by the Swiss Border Guard Office in Dubai, saying that the office advised, after reviewing the passenger’s file, that he should not be allowed to board the flight on the ground of the suspicion of illegal immigration and the request for political asylum.

The plaintiff rejected these claims as baseless, saying that he is a resident with valid documents and stable employment in the Kingdom. Walid also submitted a memorandum in which he confirmed that he had a valid exit and re-entry visa issued by Saudi Passports Directorate and the approval of vacation by the employer.

The court ruled that the airline committed an error by refusing to transport the plaintiff, as he holds a valid visa from Japan that entitles him to enter Mexico via Spain without the need to issue a visa. The court considered the opinion of the Federal Customs Administration merely as an advisory.

Walid told Okaz/Saudi Gazette that the verdict showed the fairness of the Saudi judiciary, which does not differentiate between young or old or citizen or resident, and that everyone is equal before the court.

“Some close people to me mocked me when I decided to file a lawsuit, and doubted whether I could receive a favorable judgment or compensation against a large Saudi firm,” he said, while adding that the verdict proved his firm conviction that the truth would triumph and justice would be done.




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