• Numbers of UK passengers with a disability travelling by air grows by more than two thirds since 2010 - far exceeding overall passenger growth over the same period
  • New CAA report shows majority of UK airports offer 'very good' or 'good' service for disabled travellers but East Midlands, Exeter, Heathrow and Manchester, are rated 'poor'
  • CAA demands action from 'poor' airports and will monitor progress as improvements are made

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has today published a report that assesses the top 30 UK airports on the quality of assistance they provide to passengers with a disability.  It shows that the number of people with a disability requesting extra help when travelling by air continues to grow significantly and has now reached over three million journeys in 2016 - a rise of over 66 per cent since 2010.  The report reveals that the majority of UK airports are providing 'very good' or 'good' support.  But four airports have not met the CAA's expectations and have been told they must improve.

The CAA's framework, the first of its kind in Europe, was introduced to ensure there is a consistent and high quality service for disabled passengers across UK airports. The CAA assesses airports against a number of measures to establish how well they are performing for disabled passengers.  Where airports regularly under-perform, the CAA can take enforcement action to ensure services are improved.

Of the airports reviewed, six were rated 'very good', 20 rated as 'good' and four rated as 'poor'.  Those with 'very good' and 'good' ratings have performed well in areas such as customer satisfaction, waiting times and engagement with disability organisations. East Midlands, Exeter, Heathrow and Manchester airports that have been rated 'poor' have all now committed to make improvements and the CAA expects work to implement these plans to start immediately.   

Richard Moriarty, CAA 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.  Our surveys, along with the airports' own studies, have shown high levels of satisfaction among disabled passengers and we have seen some examples of excellent service where assistance is well organised and delays are minimal.  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 to make sure that services for passengers with a disability or reduced mobility continue to improve.”

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, said: “It is vital that everyone can access and use transport services, and the CAA is doing excellent work around this. 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. I also want everyone to take part in the upcoming consultation on our draft Accessibility Action Plan which will look at what more can be done across the entire transport network.”

Table of airport performance

Airport performance ratings 2017

Note: The CAA's full report 'Accessible air travel: Airport performance report 2016/17' provides a full explanation of how each ranking is defined.

ENDS

Notes to editors

The CAA assessed the UK's 30 busiest airports between April 2016 and March 2017.  This is the second annual 'Airport Accessibility Report'.  The full report can be accessed here: www.caa.co.uk/cap1577 
The CAA framework used to measure airport performance includes the following elements.  In order to receive a 'very good' or 'good' rating airports must reach certain standards in each of the following areas.  A 'poor' rating will be applied to any airport failing in any one, or more, areas.

  • How long passengers have to wait for assistance (both departure and arrival)
  • The levels of passenger satisfaction with the assistance provided, gathered from CAA passenger surveys and airports' own surveys
  • How much consultation airports had with disability organisations regarding assistance services, what consultation methods were used, if issues were addressed and what, if any, action was taken

Additional information

  1. The CAA is the UK's specialist aviation regulator. Its activities include: making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards; preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency; planning and regulating all UK airspace; and regulating airports, air traffic services and airlines and providing advice on aviation policy.
  2. The passengers with disabilities are legally entitled to free special assistance when travelling by air and this may include help when travelling through an airport, boarding or disembarking an aircraft and during a flight.
  3. The CAA is the body in the UK appointed to ensure that those that need this assistance receive it, and it is a strategic priority for the CAA that disabled passengers and those with mobility restrictions, including non-visible conditions, know that a high standard of help and assistance is available at the airport and on board and that they are confident to fly
  4. European Regulation (EC) 1107/2006 provides rights for passengers with disabilities and reduced mobility when travelling by air.
  5. These rights apply when you fly from a European Union (EU) airport.
  6. Flights to EU airports are also covered provided that you are travelling with a EU registered carrier.
  7. Airport operators and airlines must provide assistance free of charge if you have a disability or reduced mobility and require help to complete your journey.
  8. The Civil Aviation (Access to Air Travel for Disabled Persons and Persons with Reduced Mobility) Regulations 2014, was laid before Parliament on October 27 2014, and came into effect on Dec 1. The statutory instrument can be found here.

Media enquiries

For further information call the CAA Press Office on 0207 453 6030 / press.office@caa.co.uk