For some, flying with a disability is a daunting prospect and as a result people with disabilities only make up a small percentage of the total number of air passengers in the UK. Recently, a report from the CAA found that of the 260 million passengers that flew in and out the UK in 2016, only 3.1 million passengers used special assistance services. This makes up only 1.52% of all passengers, suggesting barriers for people with disabilities remain.
Following this report, Heathrow has taken proactive steps to transform its services; establishing the HAAG and investing £23 million in an improved contract with their Special Assistance partner Omniserve. Special Assistance Services are a legal requirement for all UK airports and cover everything from car parking to moving through security, boarding the plane and transferring a passenger to their seat.
Graham Race runs QEF’s Tryb4uFly service, helping people with disabilities to access air travel with confidence. This service provides free information to people thinking about flying with a disability, as well as enabling people to experience the challenges of air travel; such as boarding, wheelchair transfer and seating; in a safe and realistic aircraft cabin setting.
In joining HAAG Graham joins some of the leading experts in this field who are all working to achieve the objective of helping to make Heathrow the leading airport in the world for accessibility and inclusion. HAAG will look to bring a consumer perspective to all aspects of Heathrow’s decision-making and planning processes, and QEF will contribute expertise in this area.
Roberto Castiglioni, chairman of the Heathrow Access Advisory Group said:
“The HAAG’s vision is to improve the passenger’s journey by keeping accessibility and inclusion at the forefront of thinking. In this view, I am delighted Graham Race from QEF accepted the invite to join the Group. Graham’s unparalleled experience in helping people living with disabling conditions gain access to air travel is a true asset for the HAAG.”