The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has published a report that assesses the top 30 UK airports on the quality of assistance they provide to passengers with a disability. It shows that the number of people with a disability requesting extra help when travelling by air continues to grow significantly and has now reached over three million journeys in 2016 – a rise of over 66% since 2010. The report reveals that the majority of UK airports are providing ‘very good’ or ‘good’ support. But four airports have not met the CAA’s expectations and have been told they must improve.
The CAA says its framework, the first of its kind in Europe, was introduced to ensure there is a consistent and high-quality service for disabled passengers across UK airports. The CAA assessed airports against a number of measures to establish how well they are performing for disabled passengers. Where airports regularly under-perform, the CAA can take enforcement action to ensure services are improved.
Of the airports reviewed, six were rated ‘very good’, 20 rated as ‘good’ and four rated as ‘poor’. The CAA says that those with ‘very good’ and ‘good’ ratings have performed well in areas such as customer satisfaction, waiting times and engagement with disability organisations. East Midlands, Exeter, Heathrow and Manchester airports that have been rated ‘poor’ have all now committed to make improvements and the CAA expects work to implement these plans to start immediately.
Richard Moriarty, CAA Director of Consumers and Markets, commented: “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.”
The British Government’s Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, said: “It is vital that everyone can access and use transport services, and the CAA is doing excellent work around this. It is encouraging to see the overwhelming majority of UK airports providing a good service for passengers with a disability, but I am determined to push the aviation industry to do more. This autumn, as part of our Aviation Strategy, we will consult on ways to make aviation more accessible for people with both visible and hidden disabilities, such as dementia, autism, loss of sight or hearing, as well as age-related conditions. I also want everyone to take part in the upcoming consultation on our draft Accessibility Action Plan which will look at what more can be done across the entire transport network.”