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Airport services for disabled and less mobile passengers have improved significantly over the last year, a report from the UK Civil Aviation Authority shows.

The aviation regulator’s Airport Accessibility Report, which assesses 26 of the largest UK airports, details airports efforts in providing disabled and less mobile passengers the standard of service to which they are entitled.

In the year covered by the report, April 2022 to March 2023, 18 airports consistently achieved a good or very good rating.  

Seven airports improved from a poor rating to a good or very good rating over the year. These airports struggled to meet performance targets in the first two quarters, but improved to a ‘very good’ rating by the end of the year. Among those is Manchester Airport, which has invested heavily in recruitment and equipment and subsequently delivered significant improvements in the quality of the assistance service at the airport.

London Luton, which was previously highlighted as a lower performing airport in an interim report published in December, has also made significant improvements, scoring very good in the last quarter.

While London Heathrow continues to be rated as ‘Needs Improvement’ in this report, the airport demonstrated improvements in the service provided to passengers across all four quarters. This was against a backdrop of a 50% increase in the proportion of passengers using the assistance service since 2019, alongside being the airport with the highest total demand for assistance services in the UK airports. The report also notes that the airport did achieve the performance standards needed to be rated as ‘Good’ in the April 2023 to June 2023 period.  

The UK Civil Aviation Authority has worked alongside airports to improve experiences for passengers with reduced mobility, focussing on encouraging airports to increase staffing, and invest in equipment during the quieter winter months. This has driven the improvements across UK airports that we have seen later in the reporting year and we expect to drive continued improvements over future quarters.

Paul Smith, Joint-Interim Chief Executive at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said:

“Today’s report shows the dedicated efforts of airports across the UK to ensure that all passengers receive the standard of service they deserve.

“With 18 airports consistently achieving good or very good ratings, and others demonstrating significant improvements, the industry is making strides in returning accessibility levels to those seen before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s also important to acknowledge that there is still a way to go in providing a consistently good service for disabled and less mobile passengers across the industry, particularly for those with more complex needs, and throughout the busier summer months. The UK Civil Aviation Authority remains committed to working with airports, airlines, industry stakeholders, and advocacy groups to drive forward further improvements."

Notes to editors

  • The Airport Accessibility Framework was introduced in 2014 and has driven airports to spend millions of pounds improving experiences for passengers with reduced mobility. A similar framework for airlines is now under consideration.
  • The UK Civil Aviation Authority’s Airport Accessibility Report assesses 26 of the largest UK airports by passenger numbers, and the rankings are based on the performance standards against which airports are measured regarding providing a timely assistance service.
  • The UK Civil Aviation Authority previously published an interim report in December 2022 due to the significant challenges faced by the aviation industry in summer 2022.
  • The annual report includes all UK airports that handled more than 150,000 passengers in the last year.