Stansted Airport `in need of improvement’ for disabled passengers

The view of Stansted Airport from the control tower Picture: WILL LODGE

The view of Stansted Airport from the control tower Picture: WILL LODGE - Credit: Archant

Stansted Airport has defended its treatment of disabled passengers, after being highlighted in a critical Civil Aviation Authority report.

Stansted, Birmingham, Gatwick and Manchester are criticised, with Manchester rated `poor’ and the other three, including Stansted, `in need of improvement’ in the CAA’’s latest Accessibility Report.

The top 30 UK airports are again ranked for accessibility for disabled passengers, with 16 of them ranked `very good’.

Progress has been made by Heathrow, which is now rated `good’.

But three airports, Birmingham, Gatwick and Stansted have not met the CAA’s expectations and have been told that they must improve.

Paul Smith, consumers and markets director at the UK Civil Aviation Authority said: “We are pleased that surveys show that satisfaction levels remain high and the vast majority of passengers’ journeys go smoothly. The improved performance of many airports means disabled passengers should have even more confidence to travel from UK airports.

“However, there are still too many occasions where things go wrong. We will continue to focus our work on ensuring that standards are maintained and improved, particularly for those whose experience has not been as positive as it could have been. Where we see examples of bad practice, we will not hesitate to hold airports to account and take the necessary enforcement action.”

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A Stansted Airport spokesperson said: “London Stansted acknowledges the findings of the CAA’s Accessibility Report and is committed to working closely with the CAA, Omniserve - our service provider - and all our on-site partners to ensure that passengers with disabilities are able to travel independently and confidently through the airport.

“Stansted has over the past year invested significantly in its infrastructure by re-locating access points, expanding reception areas and investing in equipment to speed up the process of boarding aircraft. As a result, we now welcome record numbers of passengers with disabilities to the airport.

“We have also worked in partnership with organisations such as Changing Places and Dementia Friends to ensure our facilities are suitable for an even wider range of passengers.

“The CAA, in its report last year, asked Stansted to focus on improving engagement and consultation with representatives of disability groups. This year we have established a dedicated Disability Forum which has fed directly into new ideas to improve the airport experience for passengers with disabilities.

“We recognise that we still have more work to do to make Stansted as accessible as possible, and we are committed to further improving on our record of service and engagement.”

Baroness Sugg, UK aviation minister, said: “It’s essential that passengers with reduced mobility or hidden disabilities get the service they deserve every time they fly.

“The CAA has stepped up its work in this area and plays an important role in showing where improvement still needs to be made.

“I welcome the progress made by airports to improve accessibility and will continue to work with all of the aviation industry to make flying easier for disabled passengers.”

The CAA report highlights that there are more than three million requests for assistance at UK airports annually – a rise of almost 80 per cent since 2010.

Satisfaction levels remain high, with 83% of people requesting assistance stating that they are ‘satisfied’, with 54 % of those being ‘very satisfied’.