Under the Disablility Discrimination Act, agents and operators already have a responsibility not to treat disabled people less favourably than non-disabled people and as service providers they are expected to make reasonable adjustments to facilitate this.
But as of July, when the second part of EU Regulation 1107/2006 Rights of Disabled Persons and Persons with Reduced Mobility When Travelling by Air takes effect, the industry will be forced to take on wider responsibilities and will be committing a criminal offence if it fails to do so.
From 26 July 2008…
- A legal requirement will be placed on airports to organise the provision of the services necessary to enable disabled and reduced mobility passengers to board, disembark and transit between flights. Airlines are responsible for assistance on board the aircraft.
- Airports handling more than 150,000 commercial passenger movements per annum will be required to set quality standards for the service, in co-operation with airlines and bodies representing disabled people.
- Airports may provide the services themselves, or outsource them to another body such as an airline. It is possible that an airline will initiate the contracting process.
- Passengers must not be charged for the service.
- Procedures must be in place to ensure notification and information exchange aimed at ensuring the smooth operation of the service to passengers. For example, agents booking flights for customers with disabilities will need to inform the airline if the passenger needs assistance such as a wheelchair.
- All staff dealing directly with the travelling public must receive disability-awareness and disability-equality training.