“0 received Poor”- UK Civil Aviation Authority reports on disabled access at UK airports

“0 received Poor”- UK Civil Aviation Authority reports on disabled access at UK airports


Image: airport terminal, people walking and standing in the lines inside. Info signs with toilets for mam and babies and the disabled passengers


The Civil Aviation Authority has published its fourth annual report on the disability access of the UK’s largest airports, covered a 12-month reporting period of 1 April 2018 - 31 March 2019. No airports classified as 'poor' for the first time since reporting began.


In total, there were a record number of 3.7 million requests for assistance at UK airports in the latest year - a rise of over 80 per cent since 2010. The latest UK Aviation Consumer Survey found 47% of passengers who requested assistance for their last flight were doing so for the first time and 23% of passengers who said they had a disability thought they would fly more often in the next year.

The CAA's accessibility report reveals that 14 airports have been rated 'very good'. Among them: Aberdeen, Belfast City, City of Derry, Cornwall Newquay, Doncaster Sheffield, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Glasgow Prestwick, Humberside, Kirkwall, Norwich, Southampton, Sumburgh. It means that airports consistently exceed, meet, or are very close to meeting, monthly waiting time performance targets. And, that airports engage very effectively with disability groups. For example, the experts noted, that Glasgow has met the CAA’s waiting time standard for 99.9% of arriving disabled and less mobile passengers over the year and 85% of respondents rated Glasgow’s assistance service as good or excellent. Edinburgh met the standard for 99.7% of passengers and 80% of respondents rated its service as good or excellent.


Image: London Heathrow airport
London Heathrow is rated 'good'

A further 16 airports were rated 'good' - Belfast International, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bristol, Cardiff, East Midlands, Inverness, Leeds Bradford, Liverpool, London City, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton, London Southend, London Stansted, Newcastle.

The experts also mentioned some critical improvements made by the participants of the rating. For example, London Gatwick in co-operation with their largest airline, easyJet, recently changed their processes for embarking and disembarking passengers with all flights now using an air bridge as well as stairs, rather than two sets of stairs. London Luton and London Stansted have improved the experience for arriving passengers using the assistance service by removing waiting areas in the arrivals journey, making it a more seamless journey and greatly improving journey times through the airports.


Image: a woman in a wheelchair is registrating to the flight with a self-kiosk; an assistance service employee is helping
CAA: “An increasing number of people know support is available, feel confident enough to use it and,
as a result, more disabled and less mobile people than ever are traveling by air” 

Four airports that were classified as 'very good' last year received 'good' ratings this year, while Manchester Airport was classified as 'needing improvement' - although this was an improved rating from 'poor' in the previous two years.  However, the Civil Aviation Authority expects Manchester Airport to take immediate action to reverse a recent decline in performance since the end of this reporting year in time for the next accessibility reviews. 

For the first time since the framework's introduction in 2016, no airports were classified as 'poor'.

The Civil Aviation Authority will work closely with airports to improve accessibility for disabled passengers.


Paul Smith, Consumers and Markets Director at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “These results show significant improvements to the experience many disabled passengers faced before our reporting began. We hope this will help passengers to feel confident and empowered to travel from UK airports. While it is good to see the general improvements, airports will need to continue to work hard to improve, so that they are able to meet the more demanding performance standards that we have now introduced. Where we see examples of bad practice, we will not hesitate to hold airports to account and take the necessary action.”