A new independent panel – made up of experts in the travel needs of disabled passengers and people with reduced mobility – will help to shape Gatwick’s accessibility strategy and improve services for disabled passengers.
The Independent Gatwick Accessibility Panel (IGAP) will take a broad view of accessibility provision and services at the airport, including setting new service standards and reviewing the airport’s performance against them.
The panel will first meet on the 19 December 2019 and will build upon the ongoing work and achievements of two existing groups; the Passenger Advisory PRM Group – which represents passengers – and the Accessibility Community Forum, which is where airport stakeholders meet with local charities and support groups.
Ann Frye – an international specialist in the transport needs of disabled and older people will chair the group. Ann currently co-chairs the US Transportation Research Board sub-committee on International Activities in Accessible Transportation and Mobility. She is also working with the United Nations and the International Transport Forum on the mobility implications of a global ageing population.
Other members of the panel have been primarily drawn from the disability community – including those with hidden disabilities – and have been selected based on their expertise and experience both in disability and air travel. The biographies of other panel members can be found on Gatwick’s website here
The panel will then meet at least twice every year and the minutes from each meeting will be published on Gatwick’s website. The panel will also be consulted on other relevant issues on an ad hoc basis.
Aviation Minister Paul Maynard said: “Transport is vital for connecting people with work, friends and family, and should enable those from every part of society to access and enjoy exploring the rest of the world.
“Gatwick’s continued work on accessibility is helping to open up new opportunities and experiences, ensuring the aviation network is truly open to all.”
Chris Woodroofe, Chief Operating Officer, Gatwick Airport, said: “This new independent panel of experts will help us set new standards and identify innovative opportunities where we can improve the service we offer to passengers with reduced mobility or other disabilities.
“The panel will also complement and build on the ongoing achievements of our Accessibility Forum and Passenger Advisory Groups. By consulting and engaging with such a broad range of experts, we want to make sure our accessibility services are the best they can be.”
Ann Frye, Chair of the Independent Gatwick Accessibility Panel, said: “I am delighted to have been invited to chair the new Independent Gatwick Accessibility Panel. I have worked for many years to promote accessibility for disabled and older people in aviation and other forms of transport and I look forward to working with Gatwick and their key stakeholders in achieving their goal to be the UK’s most accessible airport.”
Gatwick was the first airport to introduce a hidden disability lanyard scheme – something that all UK airports have introduced since. Gatwick was also the first UK airport to open a sensory room, invested £2 million in a new ‘premium-style’ lounge for passengers with reduced mobility and is expanding its existing range of Changing Places facilities, which include hoists and height-adjustable changing beds and sinks.
The airport also places a particular emphasis on training and all passenger-facing staff are taught to recognise a range of hidden disabilities. To ensure consistent standards across the airport, Gatwick also offers this training free to airlines, ground handlers and organisations.
For example, 2,200 staff have been trained to recognise and help people with dementia across 14 different businesses. Staff working for Gatwick’s special assistance provider – Wilson James – are also the only ones in the UK trained to NVQ Level 2 & 3.