The UK's aviation minister Jim Fitzpatrick announced measures coming in later this month to give disabled people new rights when travelling by air in Europe.

From 26 July 2007 it will be illegal for an airline, travel agent or tour operator to refuse a booking on the grounds of disability or to refuse to allow a disabled person, with a valid ticket and reservation to board.

The new rules will mean that anyone who has been refused boarding on the grounds of disability or reduced mobility will be able to complain to the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) which will then advise them on their rights.

The commission could refer the matter to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which will have power to prosecute. If found guilty, an airline could face an unlimited fine.

The law will come into force in two stages. Stage one will ensure that disabled people and those with reduced mobility have the same access to air travel as others. The second stage, which will come into force next year, will bring further significant benefits to disabled travellers.

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