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Air travel - new Bill proposal

Helen Whately has been the MP for the Faversham and Mid Kent constituency since 2015.  The issues with air travel for disabled passengers originally came to Helen’s attention when one of her constituents, who has a spinal cord injury, brought to her attention the shockingly poor air travel experiences he’d endured.  SIA first met Helen at the Conservative Party Conference in 2017 and we are delighted to have been able to support her plan to introduce legislation to improve air travel accessibility for passengers with disabilities.

Helen is making a speech in the House of Commons on Tuesday 24 July under the 10 Minute Rule Bill.  So far, the Bill aims to:

  1. Require airports to guarantee a minimum number of disabled parking bays with suitable help points.
  2. Require airports and airlines to produce an annual report to the CAA reflecting the steps taken to:
  • Train staff to understand physical and hidden disabilities
  • Provide sufficient storage space for wheelchairs in the cabin of the aircraft
  • Ensure that damage compensation schemes match the value of damaged equipment by putting in place a specific redress under alternative dispute resolutions
  • Ensure that disabled passengers can fly unaccompanied or that a named staff member is responsible for disabled passengers.
  1. Require the Secretary of State to establish a statutory working group to guide the design and adaptation of aircraft to meet the needs of passengers with disabilities, including hidden disabilities.

Helen is keen for SIA’s members to write a short letter/email to their MP and ask them to attend.  The aim is to urge as many MP’s as possible to be present in the chamber for the speech to show their support for better air travel accessibility.  Click on the link below to download suggested text for a letter/email.  You can also use this easy on-line tool to help find your MP’s contact details.

Text for letter/email

Helen’s work in this area complements the UK Civil Aviation Authority report published earlier this month that rated the top 30 UK airports on the accessibility services they provide.  There are now more than three million requests for assistance at UK airports annually – a rise of almost 80 per cent since 2010.  The report showed 16 UK airports have been rated ‘very good’, up from six airports in last year’s review.  Disappointingly, three airports – Birmingham, Gatwick and Stansted – have not met the CAA’s expectations and have been told that they must improve, and Manchester Airport received a ‘poor’ rating for the second year in a row.

The CAA’s framework, the first of its kind in the world, was introduced to drive improvements in performance and help deliver a consistent, high-quality service for disabled passengers across UK airports.  The Civil Aviation Authority assesses airports against a number of measures to establish how well they are performing for disabled passengers, including asking those passengers using the assistance service how it performed for them.

More information about the report.

Many thanks for your support.


SIA’s Public Affairs Team.