TOKYO: A Japanese budget airline apologized on Wednesday for forcing a wheelchair-bound man to crawl up a set of stairs to board his flight. Hideto Kijima, 44, was returning earlier this month to Osaka from a vacation in Amami, a small island off southern Japan, when a Vanilla Air employee told him that company safety rules banned anyone from carrying him up the stairs. The carrier, the budget arm of All Nippon Airways, did not have a lift at the small airport to move disabled passengers from the tarmac up to the jet’s door. Kijima, who is paralyzed from the waist down, said in a blog he was forced to crawl up the stairs using only his arms. The Asahi newspaper said the man pulled himself up some 17 steps. Vanilla Air said Wednesday it has apologized to Kijima.