The launch of easyJet’s special assistance advisory group Pan-European Charter on Meeting the Needs of Disabled Air Travellers at an event in the EU Parliament on Tuesday was welcomed by policymakers and associations alike.
The Charter is based on lessons learned from the work of the easyJet’s special assistance advisory group, which consists of external experts on access to air travel for disabled people and easyJet representatives. The document contains recommendations for airlines, airports, and policymakers on how to make travelling for PRM passengers easier and more consistent between countries and airports.
Chaired by former UK Labour MP David Blunkett, esaag advises easyjet on the needs of passengers requiring special assistance since 2012. Reduced Mobility Rights director Roberto Castiglioni is a member of esaag and chair the Airport Experience sub-group.
The group was established by easyJet to provide the airline with strategic advice and practical guidance on the evolving needs of passengers requiring special assistance, reviewing, challenging and improving easyJet’s policies and procedures.
“Knowledge of air travel rights is crucial to smoother journeys”, David Blunkett said at the start of the event. “While the legislation has raised awareness, many passengers are not fully informed on their rights and responsibilities,” he added. “This charter should provide a useful and succinct guide to best practice. We call on all parties involved to improve information-sharing, particularly regarding who is responsible at each stage of the passenger journey.”
"Accessibility for all is an issue for which public support continues to grow. However, we know that in the field of transport, passengers with disabilities and reduced mobility continue to face significant barriers, be these physical or logistical," Labour MEP Lucy Anderson, host of the event and member of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee said. "Evidence indicates that the approach taken by national enforcement bodies on PRM passenger rights when travelling by air varies widely and it is important that this issue remains high on both the Commission’s and Member States’ agendas.”
Jean Louis Colson, Head of Passenger Rights Unit at the European Commission congratulated esaag for writing the Charter on meeting the needs of disabled air travellers. He was echoed by Federico Bonaudi, Facilitation Manager at Airport Council International (ACI Europe).
Attending the event James Fremantle, PRM Manager for the UK Civil Aviation Authority, also welcomed the initiative. “We welcome the esaag initiative of the Charter and encourage other airlines and airports to promote consultation with disability groups”.