Scotland business

Edinburgh Airport praised over disabled access improvement

Wheelchair at airport Image copyright Getty Images

Scotland's busiest airport has made "significant progress" in improving access for disabled travellers, according to a report.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) raised Edinburgh's rating for access from "poor" to "good" following improvements.

Glasgow, Glasgow Prestwick and Inverness were among six UK airports described as "very good".

Aberdeen Airport and Sumburgh Airport on Shetland received a "good" ranking.

The report assessed the top 30 UK airports on the quality of assistance provided to passengers with a disability.

It found the majority of UK airports were providing "very good" or "good" support.

However, four airports - East Midlands, Exeter, London Heathrow and Manchester - did not meet the CAA's expectations and were told they must improve.

More than three million people with a disability requested extra help when travelling by air in the UK last year - a rise of more than 66% since 2010.

'Significant progress'

In its report, the CAA said: "In last year's report we classified Edinburgh as 'poor' and therefore we are particularly pleased that there has been significant progress at the airport over the year.

"We have been impressed by how the airport has made accessibility a priority and how its management and that of its service provider, Omniserv, have worked hard to not only bring the service up to an acceptable standard but to aspire to achieve a 'very good' rating."

It added: "We will now be looking to the airport to keep this focus and ensure that current standards are maintained."

Image copyright Edinburgh Airport
Image caption Edinburgh said it had invested in its special assistance service

Edinburgh Airport said it was "delighted" to achieve its higher rating.

A spokesman said: "We have invested in our special assistance service and have worked closely with OmniServ to improve the provision of services through producing an in-depth accessibility guide for passengers using the service and increasing the equipment available to our teams.

"We also directly engaged with the disabled community, holding an accessibility open day in February this year to discuss our services and hear from users and people with lived experience."

He added: "Our focus will now be to build on this positive classification and improve on the already good standard of service currently provided at Edinburgh Airport."

Glasgow Prestwick was given a top rating after hosting "successful familiarisation and feedback events" with charities representing people with sensory impairments and with learning disabilities;

Image caption The CAA said Glasgow "provided a high quality assistance service throughout the year".

Inverness, whose staff attend "numerous local access panels" also achieved a "very good" ranking, as did Glasgow, which the CAA said "provided a high quality assistance service throughout the year".

Inverness Airport customer focus manager Callum Smith said: "In the past year we have made service improvements by installing additional call points within the car park, taxi rank and bus stop.

"We have been audited by the Scottish Transport Alliance and are currently working with Enable Scotland on disability equality training and a local charity, Autism Initiatives, to gain a national autism awareness accreditation."

Paul Scott, terminal compliance manager at Glasgow Airport, said: "Each year the airport welcomes and escorts more than 110,000 customers, often with complex needs, who require additional support while travelling through the terminal.

"Our service provider OCS Group works incredibly hard in partnership with our terminal team and airline partners to continually meet the needs of passengers who require additional assistance.

"We also meet regularly with a number of local access groups to ensure the airport is doing everything possible to support our PRM (Person of Restricted Mobility) passengers, including those with physical and hidden disabilities."

Sumburgh also welcomed its "good" rating, adding that it was already "taking further steps to improve accessibility by improving our waiting area and changing over signs for our disabled toilets".

'Record' month

Meanwhile, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports both reported their busiest month on record in July.

More than 1.4 million passengers passed through Edinburgh Airport, making it the busiest ever month recorded at a Scottish airport.

Glasgow reported 1,082,047 passengers in July, up 6.2% on the same period in 2016.

Aberdeen International Airport recorded just over 301,000 passengers in July, a year-on-year rise of 2.7%, following continued increases in both domestic and international passenger numbers.

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