More disabled people travelling by air – but improvement is needed at airports

Four British airports have been flagged up as requiring improvements made to services for disabled passengers – despite the fact that the number of disabled people choosing to travel by air has increased by two-thirds since 2010.

A new report from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has assessed the top 30 UK airports on the quality of assistance that they provide for disabled passengers. The majority are ‘very good’ or ‘good’, but East Midlands, Exeter, Manchester and Heathrow have all been rated ‘poor’.

The CAA will be closely monitoring the four poor air travel hubs, demanding that they address their assistance procedures as soon as possible.

The number of people with a disability flying has increased significantly, reaching over three million journeys in 2016 – rise of 66% since 2010.

The CAA’s framework, the first of its kind in Europe,  was introduced to ensure that there is a high quality, consistent service for disabled travellers across all UK airports.

Of the airports, six were rated as ‘very good’, 20 as ‘good’ and four as ‘poor’. The ‘very good’ and ‘good’ airports ranked highly in areas such as customer satisfaction ,waiting times and engagement with disability organisations. The top performing airports were Birmingham, Glasgow Prestwick, Glasgow, Humberside, Inverness and Norwich.

Richard Moriarty, CAA Director of Consumers and Markets, said: “UK aviation should be proud that it continues to serve a rapid increase in the number of passengers with a disability.  Our surveys, along with the airports’ own studies, have shown high levels of satisfaction among disabled passengers and we have seen some examples of excellent service where assistance is well organised and delays are minimal.  However, East Midlands, Exeter, Heathrow and Manchester have fallen short of our expectations and we have secured commitments from them to make improvements. We will monitor their implementation over the coming months to make sure that services for passengers with a disability or reduced mobility continue to improve.”

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