British Airports are getting more disability friendly, but there’s still work to be done
12 July 2019 at 4:29 pm
UK airports have significantly improved their accessibility for people with disability, according to the industry regulator.
The Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) latest report ranked the UK’s top 31 airports on accessibility for passengers with disability.
For the first time since reporting began four years ago, no airport was classified as “poor”, with 14 airports rated “very good” and 16 rated “good”.
Manchester Airport was alone in being classified as “needing improvement”, but improved on its “poor” rating from the previous two years.
Paul Smith, CAA’s consumers and markets director, said he hoped this would help passengers feel confident to travel from UK airports.
“These results show significant improvements to the experience many disabled passengers faced before our reporting began,” Smith said.
“While it is good to see the general improvements, airports will need to continue to work hard to improve, so that they are able to meet the more demanding performance standards that we have now introduced.”
CAA said there were a record 3.7 million requests for assistance at UK airports in the past year, a rise of more than 80 per cent since 2010.
The report noted nearly a quarter of less mobile passengers and those with disability requested assistance because the airport was becoming more difficult to navigate.
Manchester Airport has been urged to take immediate action to improve its rating, and CAA said it had received assurances from the airport that it has plans in place to address this.
CAA is particularly calling on the airport to reduce waiting times for people using its assistance service.
Aviation Minister Baroness Vere said while it was encouraging that almost all of the UK’s main airports were rated highly, there was still much more to do.
“The UK Civil Aviation Authority has introduced more demanding performance measures for airports, and the sector will continue to work to improve the experience for disabled passengers at every stage of their journey,” Vere said.
Since April this year, CAA has assessed airports using stricter targets, aiming to improve the passenger experience and create a more seamless journey.
In response to the report, disability charity Scope told the BBC: “There are problems in airports, and problems on planes. Often problems happen when one company ‘hands off’ to another and it’s unclear to the disabled passenger who is responsible.
“So while it’s good to see progress from the airports, and impressive no airport is ranked failing this year, there are problems that don’t fall under the CAA remit that need to be addressed.”