Accessibility in the UK’s airports is improving according to the results of the latest survey by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The body’s fourth annual report reveals that for the first time since their ratings began no airports were classified as poor. The findings are welcome, even more so because in publishing the information the CAA has reaffirmed its commitment to drive further improvements following the introduction this year of stricter targets.
The Airport Accessibility Report 2018/19 does not drill down to provide details of the level of accessibility of specific facilities, such as WCs and parking provision, but these already fall under the terms of the Equality Act 2010.
What the report does is provide guidance on the accessibility of airports by assessing waiting times, user satisfaction and effectiveness of consultation with their local disabled community.
On the negative side, the CAA reported that four airports which were classified as “very good” last year received “good” ratings this year. The lowest ranked airport was Manchester, but the rating of “needing improvement” is progress on the assessment of “poor” for the last two years.
The report reveals the 31airports received a record number of 3.7 million requests for assistance during the period covered by the report – an increase of more than 80 per cent since 2010.
A total of 14 airports were rated as “very good”, including Belfast City, Doncaster Sheffield, Edinburgh and Glasgow. A further 16 were classified as “good”, including Belfast International, Birmingham, Gatwick, Heathrow, Leeds Bradford, London City, Luton, Newcastle and Stansted.
Among the benchmarks for a “good” rating the CAA expects the airports to meet “or closely meet” monthly waiting time performance targets, pro-actively promote a satisfaction survey among users of the service, score a rating of acceptable or better from that survey, and engage with disability organisations.
To achieve a ‘very good’ classification, airports must provide high quality support on the day of travel as well as keep in regular contact and consultation with their users.
The report highlights room for improvement, with research showing that nearly a quarter of disabled and less mobile passengers said they requested assistance because the airport environment was becoming more difficult to navigate.
The CAA points out that since April this year, airports have been assessed using stricter targets, to improve the passenger experience and create a more seamless journey. Airports will need to further improve in order to retain or improve their classifications going forward.
Paul Smith, Consumers and Markets Director at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “These results show significant improvements to the experience many disabled passengers faced before our reporting began. We hope this will help passengers to feel confident and empowered to travel from UK airports.
“Where we see examples of bad practice, we will not hesitate to hold airports to account and take the necessary action.”
Aviation Minister Baroness Vere said: “It is encouraging that almost all of our main airports are rated highly, but there is much more to do.”
To view the report visit https://www.caa.co.uk/News/UK-Civil-Aviation-Authority-reports-on-disabled-access-at-UK-airports/