Sochi: 100-day Paralympic Countdown Starts

(Photo: Basel Aero Press Service)

Sochi Check-in counter for the disabledWith November 27 marking 100 days to go before the opening ceremony of the XI Winter Paralympic Games, Basel Aero, operator of Russia’s Sochi Airport has announced it is: “fully geared up”  to welcome Paralympians from all over the world.
The airport, the main gateway for the Sochi 2014 Paralympics, has introduced permanent accessibility improvements for passengers with reduced mobility as it prepares to welcome almost 1,500 Paralympic athletes.
The airport says its new facilities and additional staff training are part of Basel Aero’s $1 million investment in the airport’s accessibility programme, which will continue to benefit all passengers with reduced mobility long after the Paralympics.
Accessibility infrastructure includes two ambulifts that are used to help passengers with reduced mobility embark and disembark aircraft. They can accommodate up to five people simultaneously and can be operated with different types of aircraft. Access through its tail-lift is easy and the large-size front platform adjusts perfectly to all aircraft door sills thanks to its telescopic extension.
The airport says the ambulifts will enable disabled passengers can move safely and comfortably to or from their aircraft by using lightweight aisle chairs.  The airport will be 29 of them available to serve Paralympic athletes on the peak arrivals day.
As part of the programme, the airport is equipped with mnemonic schemes featuring Braille letters, installed near the entrance and inside the terminal. Physically-challenged passengers can also use a special check-in desk if they want to as a separate check-in desk with a special information signs is provided.  There is a separate line for people with limited mobility in the preflight control area.
The airport’s information desk has induction portable panels for the hearing impaired. Special yellow sign navigation, installed throughout the terminal, will help visually-impaired passengers to make their way through the building while a wheelchair-friendly elevator with Braille letters on the buttons will make it easier to reach the second floor.
The car park has also been redesigned to provide 71 dedicated parking spaces for the disabled.  Another six spaces for people with reduced mobility will be located just near the entrance to the terminal.
Specially-trained medical assistants (paramedics) will help the passengers during check-in, registration of luggage and a transfer from the departure lounge to an aircraft. They can also meet passengers with reduced mobility at the arrival.  
Leonid Sergeev, Basel Aero CEO, commented: “We’ve prepared everything to ensure the best and smoothest service for passengers with special needs. However, Basel Aero is still searching for new approaches and ways to make the accessibility program even more effective.  Airport Sochi pledges to give a warmest welcome to Paralympians and their companions.”
Paralympics athletes already had a chance to use the airport’s facilities during 2013 test events season in February and March when Sochi hosted World Wheelchair Curling Championship, IPC Biathlon & Cross-Country Skiing World Cup as well as alpine skiing and sledge hockey tournaments.
The International Paralympic Committee has also praised the airport’s infrastructure that is ready to face one of the biggest operational challenges.
(Photo: Basel Aero Press Service)