HIAL airports praised in latest CAA airport accessibility report

Inverness Airport has been named one of the UK’s top six most accessible airports for disabled passengers in a new report published by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Sumburgh Airport, in Shetland was also acknowledged for the high quality of assistance service provided over a 12-month period.

Inverness was ranked as “very good” in the CAA’s Airport Accessibility Report 2016/17, alongside Birmingham, Glasgow Prestwick, Glasgow, Humberside and Norwich.

Sumburgh was ranked “good” alongside others such as Aberdeen, Edinburgh and London Gatwick.

In the report, the CAA states: “Improving the accessibility of air travel, so that greater numbers of disabled passengers and those with mobility restrictions are able to travel by air, is a key priority for the CAA.”

In order to receive a “‘very good” or “good” rating airports must reach certain standards in a range of areas, including:

  • How long passengers have to wait for assistance (both departure and arrival)
  • The levels of passenger satisfaction with the assistance provided, gathered from CAA passenger surveys and airports’ own surveys
  • How much consultation airports had with disability organisations regarding assistance services, what consultation methods were used, if issues were addressed and what, if any, action was taken

A “poor” rating applied to any airport failing in any one, or more, areas.

The CAA report added: “We are pleased to report that the number of disabled people and those with mobility restrictions using air travel has again increased in the past year [up from 2.7million in 2015 to more than three million in 2016].”

“The increase in numbers is good news and something the UK aviation industry should be rightly proud of.”

Inverness was described as providing an excellent service to disabled passengers with staff attending numerous local access panels.

Inverness Airport customer focus manager Callum Smith said: “We work in partnership with AGS Handling to provide support and assistance to persons of reduced mobility travelling to and from the airport.

“In the past year we have made service improvements by installing additional call points within the car park, taxi rank and bus stop. We have been audited by the Scottish Transport Alliance and are currently working with ENABLE Scotland on Disability Equality Training and a local charity Autism Initiatives to gain a national autism awareness accreditation.”

Sumburgh’s interim airport manager, head of airport services, Lesley Still said: “We are delighted to have been recognised for the improvements we have taken to improve accessibility, which was always planned as part of our £6.5million refurbishment which was officially opened early this year.”

“We are already taking further steps to improve accessibility by improving our waiting area and changing over signs for our disabled toilets.”

This is the second year the UK’s 30 busiest airports have been assessed by the CAA against a structured performance framework.

Of the airports reviewed, six were rated ‘very good’, 20 rated as ‘good’ and four rated as ‘poor’.  Those with ‘very good’ and ‘good’ ratings have performed well in areas such as customer satisfaction, waiting times and engagement with disability organisations.

The CAA’s 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 assesses 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.

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