Belfast Telegraph

New aviation charter plan to improve air travel for the disabled

By Neil Lancefield

Improving conditions for disabled airline passengers is a key focus of a proposed new charter for airlines and airports.

The document includes commitments to raise wheelchair storage standards, ensure better training for staff and boost awareness among disabled passengers of their rights.

The charter is one of the proposals outlined by aviation minister Liz Sugg from the Government's upcoming aviation strategy consultation.

Service level standards for all passengers for how complaints and compensation claims are resolved are also included in the document, which was agreed by the aviation industry and the Government.

In July, the Civil Aviation Authority warned that the treatment of disabled passengers by four of the UK's seven busiest airports is unacceptable.

Manchester received a "poor" accessibility rating, while London Gatwick, London Stansted and Birmingham were told they "need improvement".

Some passengers on incoming flights at Manchester Airport were left waiting on planes for more than an hour before assistance arrived, the research found.

BBC journalist Frank Gardner, who is a wheelchair user, made headlines after being left stranded on a plane twice in six months earlier this year.

Ms Sugg said: "Our fantastic aviation industry connects passengers to destinations across the world with some of the best fares available.

"But we are determined to work with industry to continue to drive up service levels and the new passenger charter aims to improve the experience of all passengers when they fly."

Karen Dee, boss of the Airport Operators Association, said: "CAA figures show that more than eight in 10 people had a good experience on their most recent flight, demonstrating that the UK aviation industry is offering a great experience for passengers.

"Nevertheless, as an industry we are always looking to build on our success."

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of trade body Airlines UK, said carriers will work with the Government to "connect UK families and businesses domestically and to the world, deliver tremendous value for money and further improve the travelling experience for all passengers".

The charter will be proposed as part of the Government's aviation strategy consultation which launches later this month, before the Government's policy is finalised next year.

Belfast Telegraph


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