The Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority are stepping up efforts to promote access to aviation for passengers with disabilities.
Reduced Mobility Rights hard work and relentless action advocating access to aviation is finally beginning to produce results. Both the DfT and the CAA are dedicating more time and resources to promote the rights of passengers with disabilities.
Since its inception, Reduced Mobility Rights has been advocating the adoption of civil sanctions and performance monitoring by mean of airports’ audit with the Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority.
"The introduction of 1107/2006 set down requirements concerning the rights of disabled person and personswith reduced mobility when travelling by air, namely that they have the same right as all other citizens to free movement, freedom of choice and non-discrimination. This was already recognised by the Government through other domestic legislation, but the introduction of 1107/2006 set out specific requirements for the aviation sector and applied these same requirements across the EU," a spokesperson for the Department for Transport said.
"The Government monitors the effectiveness of the legislation through regular liaison with the CAA. The CAA works closely with Industry to secure changes in behaviour. For example, it has ensured that all UK airports and airlines flying to and from the UK accept assistance dogs, (which was not the case previously) and it has secured changes in airline seating policies regarding Persons with Reduced Mobility (PRM).The CAA monitors data on performance, and targets those who underperform."
Most importantly, the Department for Transport confirmed it is continuing to pursue the adoption of civil sanctions. “The provision of civil sanctions is still in its early stages of consideration in the Department for Transport. Any future changes would be subject to securing the necessary parliamentary and/or recorded for legal purposes.”
The Civil Aviation Authority is also implementing new procedures to ensure regulatory compliance. “The CAA assesses industry compliance with PRM regulations using a number of tools. These include assessing consumer complaints, site visits and information from disability groups and industry,” a CAA spokesperson said.
“However, we do acknowledge there is a need for a larger body of evidence to help to monitor performanceand assess compliance and performance, so we are currently distributing a PRM compliance questionnaire to all UK airports and also the major airlines flying from the UK. We are also undertaking work to ensure airports meet their obligations to produce quality standards and plans, asking each airport to share its performance data on meeting these quality standards with the CAA.”
The yearly audit of airports quality standards is compulsory in Regulation EU 1107/2006. “The CAA will use data received from the questionnaire and quality standards reporting to target areas of noncompliance and poor performance with individual companies. This might be done through a number of different channels from informal contact with airline and airport staff with responsibility for PRMs, to through formal working groups the CAA has with industry, and in serious cases, formal enforcement action.”
About the author
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Reduced Mobility Rights, Roberto Castiglioni is an expert of airport accessibility, management and support procedures of passengers with special needs and air travel related regulations. He has been a frequent flyer for the past three decades and has several years of experience as travelling partner of a passenger who requires assistance.
Roberto provides accessibility and access consulting services to airports and airlines. He is a member of the UK Civil Aviation Authority Access To Air Travel Working Group. He is also a member of the Easyjet Special Assistance Advisory Group. Esaag provides Easyjet with strategic guidance and practical advice on the evolving needs of passengers requiring special assistance.