In its Interim Airport Accessibility Report, the UK Civil Aviation Authority identified airports that provided an unacceptable level of service to disabled people and passengers with reduced mobility over the seven-month period between April 1, and October 31, 2022.
The aviation regulator’s report assesses 16 of the largest UK airports. It was created to detail those airports that have succeeded in making improvements, as well as those that need to put in place further improvements to ensure that, in 2023, disabled people and people with reduced mobility receive the standard of service to which they are entitled.
A total of eight airports were ranked as ‘poor’ in the early months of the reporting period as too many disabled passengers and passengers with reduced mobility were waiting for assistance on arrival for periods found to be unacceptably long. However, following significant progress, Birmingham, London Gatwick, London Stansted and Manchester airports were rated as either ‘good’ or ‘very good’ by the end of the reporting period. Bristol, Leeds Bradford and London Heathrow were still deemed as needing improvement at the time of the report’s publication, as passengers had not seen sufficient improvements in the provision of service. Only London Luton Airport continues to be ranked as poor.
Only Aberdeen, Belfast International, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London City airports were rated as ‘very good’ for the whole period under review. Liverpool and Newcastle were rated as a mixture of ‘good’ and ‘very good’ across the period. The regulator’s report has praised those achieving a ‘very good’ rating and commended, in particular, East Midlands and Liverpool airports for introducing schemes that enable personalization of the assistance journey – for example requesting assistance only at certain required stages of travel.
Earlier in 2022, the regulator wrote to airports informing them that the experience passengers received was unacceptable and told those who were underperforming that it expected them to do more to improve the quality of assistance throughout the rest of the summer. The regulator also produced guidance that encouraged airports to make assistance services more passenger-focused and effective, as well as spending time at UK airports this summer to better understand the challenges facing airports and offer advice and support as appropriate. According to the organization, this drove improvements toward the end of the summer period, but overall, the regulator ranked London Luton Airport as the worst-performing airport, for failing to reach performance targets and for failing to make significant improvements to the assistance it provided between April 1, and October 31, 2022.
Paul Smith, director of consumers at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said, “The aviation industry has faced unprecedented challenges, but too many passengers at UK airports have been waiting for unacceptable amounts of time for assistance on arriving flights on too many occasions. We strongly believe that everyone should have access to air travel, and we welcome the substantial improvements that airports have made for disabled and less mobile passengers. We will continue to consider whether we need to take further action where airports are not delivering an acceptable level of performance, and not showing sufficient and sustained improvements. We want to see immediate further improvements, as well as airports being well prepared to provide a high-quality service during next year.”