Chinese Airlines Receives Lawsuit for Rejecting HIV-Positive Passengers

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A man walks past a poster at a conceptual art exhibition about HIV/AIDS. Reuters Files
A man walks past a poster at a conceptual art exhibition about HIV/AIDS. R

Chinese budget aircraft carrier Spring Airlines has been slapped with a lawsuit by two men and a woman after the airline rejected them because they were HIV positive.

The three passengers, where only two were actually HIV positive, accused the airline of discrimination.

The three were to travel from Shenyang in the northeast to Shijiazhuang, south of Beijing. But they were barred from boarding the flight on July 28.

"After we got our boarding passes, we informed a Spring Airlines official that some of us had HIV," the Fazhi Evening Paper quoted one of the three passengers. "The official immediately rang up the Shanghai head office for instructions, and then told us the company has rules forbidding the transportation of passengers with HIV."

Their tickets were immediately cancelled, forcing them to take a train to get to their destination.

Airlines, by Chinese law, have a right to deny entry to passengers carrying "infectious" diseases.

But Liu Wei, the plaintiffs' lawyer, argued there was no evidence gathered by the airlines that showed the three passengers could infect anyone else in that certain flight.

The Global Times reported the Shenyang court had accepted the case. It is now considered the first lawsuit in China against an airline for discriminating against an HIV-positive person.

"The court's acceptance of this case signalled that HIV carriers can protect their rights through legal channels," Global Times quoted plaintiff Cheng Shuaishuai.

The three passengers are seeking compensation of 48,999 yuan (AUD8,549.05) as well as an open apology.

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