London Gatwick Airport has opened a new £2m (US$2.6m) lounge-style area in its North Terminal for passengers who require special assistance – one of the biggest of its kind in any European airport.
The area has been designed with a premium lounge feel, providing bespoke chairs and soft furnishings to provide a quiet, calm environment where passengers can relax ahead of their flight. Situated next to the North Terminal’s Departure Lounge, the new area is easy to access and has capacity to seat up to 90 people – more than double the existing area.
The 56m² (600ft²) site also has a dedicated reception area with hearing induction loops, water fountain and toilet facilities, as well as a number of charging points for passenger transport vehicles and personal electronic devices.
The LED energy efficient lighting can also be remotely controlled to operate at different levels of brightness across the area, dependent on the preference or needs of the passengers.
Currently around 19% of the UK population has a disability and 11% a hidden disability. As much as 7% of the UK population is thought to avoid air travel because of a disability.
Andy Pule, head of terminal operations, Gatwick Airport, said, “We are delighted to open this new area for passengers who require special assistance and have taken great care to ensure the facility offers a premium style feel while also meeting the needs of our passengers.
“Gatwick is committed to providing passengers who have a disability or reduced mobility of any kind with the support and services required to ensure their time at the airport is as comfortable as possible and this remains a key area of focus for the airport.”
Mark Hicks, director, airport operations for Wilson James, Gatwick Airport’s passenger services provider, said, “The new special assistance area in the North Terminal is a demonstration of the commitment across the Gatwick community to providing a positive service experience for passengers requiring assistance while traveling.
“The newly opened space will provide passengers with a calmer, comfortable seating environment while in our care during their journey through Gatwick.”