Only one UK airport has failed to improve accessibility for disabled passengers in the last year, according to the Civil Aviation Authority’s annual report on disabled access in airports.
Manchester Airport was rated ‘poor’ in the report published this week while London Heathrow jumped to ‘good’ after being scolded last year for its poor provision.
Birmingham, Stansted and Gatwick are rated as ‘needs improvement’. The CAA classified 16 airports as ‘very good’ this year, up from six last year.
It is evident that most airports have invested heavily in disabled equipment and initiatives since last year’s scathing report.
Heathrow has invested £23 million in an assistance service, covering new equipment, new technology and additional resources.
Airport assistance service provider, Omniserv, was drafted in to help Heathrow improve and has also been contracted by Edinburgh and Liverpool airports, which were credited for having improved accessibility the most.
While, while the report said that the assistance provided by London City was “good in general”, it expressed concerns about the equipment it uses to board disabled passengers onto aircraft. It said that it was concerned stair climbers can be uncomfortable for passengers.
In relation to Manchester being rated as the only ‘poor’ airport, the CAA said that it is “not an acceptable situation”.
“This has been acknowledged by Manchester and it has implemented a performance improvement plan to bring the quality of the assistance it provides into line with the expectations of users of the services and the CAA.”
Despite large improvements across airports, the CAA said that there is still more to do to improve journeys for disabled passengers and those with reduced mobility.
“For example, although satisfaction with the assistance service is high, the survey shows that satisfaction with the overall travel experience is slightly lower for disabled people and those with reduced mobility (72% satisfied) than for passengers in general (79% satisfied), and that around half of disabled travellers and those with reduced mobility are worried about how things will go in the future
“One out of ten responses to the CAA’s own ‘accessibility survey’ rated assistance at UK airports as ‘very poor’; and the numerous comments from passengers suggest that, when things do go wrong, the impact on individuals is significant.”