The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has published a report that assesses the top 30 UK airports on the quality of assistance they provide to passengers with a disability…
The report reveals that the majority of UK airports are providing ‘very good’ or ‘good’ support, but four UK airports have not met the CAA’s expectations and have been told they must improve.
However, it’s great news for holidaymakers travelling to and from Northern Ireland as both Belfast City Airport and Belfast International Airport have been rated as ‘good’, meaning they have preformed well in areas such as customer satisfaction, waiting times and engagements with disability organisations.
The four poorly preforming airports were listed as East Midlands, Exeter, London Heathrow and Manchester, which all have been rated as ‘poor’ and require improvement. The CAA expects work to implement these plans at the four ‘poor’ rated airport to start immediately.
Of the total number of airports reviewed, six were rated ‘very good’, 20 rated as ‘good’ and four rated as ‘poor’. 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.
The report shows that the number of people with a disability requesting extra help when travelling by air continues to grow significantly and has now reached over three million journeys in 2016 – a rise of over 66 per cent since 2010.
A spokesperson for Belfast International Airport said: “It’s good to see that the CAA recognises that much of what we are doing on accessibility is good. That said, we acknowledge that further work can and will be done with our partners to further improve our rating.
“Belfast International Airport is committed to proving the best possible service for all our customers, including those with disabilities and mobility restrictions, who travel through the airport.”
Brian Ambrose, Chief Executive at George Best Belfast City Airport, said: “Recently named Northern Ireland’s Most Responsible Company, at Belfast City Airport we pride ourselves on providing a comfortable and enjoyable passenger experience.
“We have made significant investment in upgrading our facilities in recent years and are continually working with our team, as well as our retail and airline partners, to ensure our high standards are maintained at all times.
“To be in a group of airports deemed by the CAA to have provided a high quality assistance service throughout the year is a great endorsement of our work.
“We also have a dedicated team of Ambassadors who volunteer their time to assist passengers travelling through the airport. Our volunteers are positioned throughout the airport and provide extra help to passengers when required.”
Richard Moriarty, CAA Director of Consumers and Markets, said: “UK aviation should be proud that it continues to serve a rapid increase in the number of passengers with a disability. Our surveys, along with the airports’ own studies, have shown high levels of satisfaction among disabled passengers and we have seen some examples of excellent service where assistance is well organised and delays are minimal.”