The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has improved its rating of London City Airport’s quality of assistance for disabled passengers, recognising its provision of help as “good” in the Airport Accessibility Report 2016/17, published today.
It follows several measures introduced by London City in the last twelve months, including an Open Day with the National Autistic Society; collaboration with Disabled Go, the leading UK provider of access information for disabled people, and the Business Disability Forum, a not-for-profit member organisation which helps companies become more disabled friendly; and the introduction of a ‘Travelling through London City Airport’ visual guide. The airport was also the Official Airport of the World Para Athletics Championships, held in July at the nearby London Stadium, welcoming competitors through the airport from Switzerland, Luxembourg and Greece.
The CAA report assesses the top 30 UK airports on the quality of assistance they provide to passengers with a disability. In last year’s report, the CAA stated that London City needed to do more to meet an acceptable standard, but this year noted “significant improvement”.
Melanie Burnley, Director of Passenger Experience at London City Airport, said: “Ensuring that London City Airport is a welcoming environment for all is extremely important to us. We have been striving to better cater for the needs of all passengers, including those with reduced mobility and non-visible disabilities, and our improved CAA rating is testament to this. It’s important that those who need a helping hand get the info and assistance they require, and we recommend that passengers contact their airline at least 48 hours in advance, where possible, so we can provide the best possible experience.”
Recent measures by London City Airport to improve the quality of assistance include:
- Open Days with the National Autistic Society
London City Airport teamed up with the National Autistic Society to host an Open Day to help make the airport a more accommodating and less daunting place for passengers on the autism spectrum.
In March, representatives from the National Autistic Society, together with volunteers and parents, joined airport staff to gain a better understanding of the airport journey and processes – from check-in and security, to departures and boarding.
Feedback from the Open Day group will be combined with responses from new survey cards and questionnaires, distributed within the airport, to help define future policies and inform any changes to the airport’s physical environment. Another Open Day with the National Autistic Society is also planned.
Daniel Cadey, Autism Access Development Manager at the National Autistic Society, said: “We’re really pleased that London City Airport are developing resources to help autistic passengers prepare for their visit and flight. And it’s really important that, along with other UK airports, London City is consulting with autistic people and their families to help improve the service they offer to them and other customers with hidden disabilities.”
- A new visual guide
A ‘Travelling through London City Airport’ visual guide was created in consultation with the Business Disability Forum and published in March. The printed guide is in an accessible format which familiarises passengers with London City Airport and sets out a step-by-step guide to an airport journey – as an arriving or departing passenger.
Kim Whippy, Disability Consultant from Business Disability Forum, said: “We were delighted to support London City Airport in creating this visual guide. Disability-smart organisations understand the importance of providing an accessible, inclusive service to their customers. This guide will be a very useful tool for passengers to familiarise themselves with the airport, and it demonstrates London City Airport’s commitment to removing barriers and creating the best possible travel experience.”
- Dementia Friends
Together with the Alzheimer’s Society the airport successfully launched the Dementia Friends scheme. Dementia Friends is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia which aims to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition. London City Airport staff from Customer Experience, Terminal Front and Security teams have now become Dementia Friends having learned about what it is to live with dementia ensuring they have the knowledge and awareness of how to assist passengers.
- Training sessions for staff
The Business Disability Forum led training sessions for airport staff, including customer services and security, on how to better recognise and help passengers who may need additional assistance, when it may not be immediately apparent.
- Lanyard for hidden disabilities
The airport is soon to launch clearly identifiable lanyards for passengers with hidden disabilities. The lanyards are entirely voluntarily and will help staff identify passengers who might need special assistance.
- Accessibility maps
Disabled Go, the leading UK provider of access information for disabled people, has helped the airport develop new accessibility maps.
- Aviramp for step-free aircraft access
A new bespoke Aviramp, designed for use at London City to provide step-free aircraft access, will be introduced this month.