A new report has highlighted the extent to which UK airports are struggling to meet accessibility requirements. But now that the Civil Aviation Authority has barked, travel operators are scrambling to improve access solutions and services.
The long-awaited call for access improvements at UK airports has finally been given a firmer voice in the form of a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) report scolding major airport operators for failing disabled passengers. It is hoped that the new report, identifying the failures of some key transport hubs, will encourage policy makers to follow Gatwick’s lead in investing in better access and mobility solutions.
Heathrow and Manchester airports were ranked as two of the worst offenders in the report, which confirmed that both would work to improve access immediately. The CAA will monitor how airports go about their improvements over the coming months to ensure commitments are met. But while some major airports fell short, others were praised.
“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 generally shown high levels of satisfaction among disabled passengers and we have seen some examples of excellent service where assistance is well-organised and delays for passengers are minimal,” commented Richard Moriarty, CAA’s director of consumers and markets.
Meanwhile, on seeing the report, transport secretary Chris Grayling stated: “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.”
Earlier this year, Gatwick Airport invested heavily in procuring multiple hoists, Changing Places facilities and sensory rooms to enhance the services that it offers to passengers with disabilities. Other UK airports could follow suit as the spotlight intensifies on the aviation industry.