Malta International Airport has been awarded the ‘Autism Friendly Spaces’ accreditation by non-profit youth worker organization Prisms, making it one of the first businesses to receive the award on the island.
The award was presented during an event organized by Prisms in collaboration with Malta’s Ministry for Inclusion, Social Wellbeing and Voluntary Organisations, the Commission of the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) and Aġenzija Żgħażagħ.
The ‘Autism Friendly Spaces’ quality label was created within a wider program, which is managed by Prisms, Autism Europe and several other entities, with the aim of supporting organizations in making places and everyday experiences more accessible to persons who are on the spectrum.
Malta International Airport became accredited after having satisfied several criteria, including the designation of employee representatives to undertake training and become autism ambassadors. Members from Prisms and the Autism Parents Association also visited the airport to assess how the company’s Journey Facilitation Program is delivered and whether it provides fast-track assistance and access to a quiet space, in line with autism-friendly recommendations for the air travel industry.
Margaret White, a youth worker for Prisms, said, “We are delighted that our airport is one of Malta’s first accredited autism-friendly spaces, especially considering that it is the only air terminal serving the islands and that people travel for a number of reasons, ranging from necessity to leisure. We hope that Malta International Airport’s success story inspires more companies and organizations to follow suit in rethinking the spaces they manage and the experiences they provide.”
Thomas Abela, customer services manager at Malta International Airport, said, “The creation of our Journey Facilitation Program was rooted in our belief that all our guests deserve to enjoy the best possible airport experience. The feedback received over the past three years has shown us what a huge difference this service has made to persons benefitting from it. This feedback together with the accreditation received today encourage us to continue making our airport and air travel as accessible as possible to this passenger segment.”
Malta International Airport launched the Journey Facilitation Program in 2018, with trained front-liners having delivered more than 500 services to persons on the spectrum since then. Through the journey facilitation service, persons on the spectrum are given a distinctive wristband which alerts staff members to their specific needs, are accompanied by a staff member throughout the journey, and given access to a quiet room providing a calming environment.