The UK’s aviation regulator has told four airports, including Heathrow, that they must improve the help they give disabled passengers.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has published a report that assesses the top 30 UK airports on the quality of assistance they provide to passengers with a disability. It reveals that while the majority are providing 'very good' or 'good' support, four – East Midlands, Exeter, Heathrow and Manchester – have been rated 'poor'.
Of the other airports reviewed, six – Norwich, Humberside, Glasgow Prestwick, Inverness, Glasgow and Birmingham – were rated 'very good' and 20 rated 'good'.
The report also shows that the number of air passengers with a disability requesting extra help continues to grow significantly, reaching over three million journeys in 2016 - a rise of over 66% since 2010.
Most airports were rated 'good'
Richard Moriarty, the CAA’s director of consumers and markets, said: ‘UK aviation should be proud that it continues to serve a rapid increase in the number of passengers with a disability.
‘However, East Midlands, Exeter, Heathrow and Manchester have fallen short of our expectations and we have secured commitments from them to make improvements. We will monitor their implementation over the coming months.’
Transport secretary Chris Grayling, said: ‘It is encouraging to see the overwhelming majority of UK airports providing a good service for passengers with a disability, but I am determined to push the aviation industry to do more.
'This autumn, as part of our Aviation Strategy, we will consult on ways to make aviation more accessible for people with both visible and hidden disabilities, such as dementia, autism, loss of sight or hearing, as well as age-related conditions.’
The report says the CAA found instances of unacceptable levels of customer service by staff of Heathrow’s contractor where passengers’ needs have not been met 'and, in some instances, where passengers have not been treated with dignity and respect’.
The CAA said its framework was introduced to ensure a consistent and high quality service for disabled passengers across UK airports. Where airports regularly under-perform, it can take enforcement action to ensure services are improved.