10 years of air passengers' rights for people with disabilities


In July 2006, a regulation on air passengers’ rights for persons with disabilities (regulation 1107/2006) was adopted, establishing a set of specific rights for passengers with disabilities in the EU. 2016 is the 10th anniversary of its adoption. This legislation has facilitated air travel for millions of persons with disabilities in Europe and has given clear guidance to airports on what services should be provided and how.

Photo: Passengers in a plane; Copyright: panthermedia.net/SimpleFoto

© panthermedia.net/SimpleFoto

To mark the 10-year anniversary of this important regulation for passengers with disabilities, EDF together with the Disability Federation of Ireland and Dublin Airport organised an event at Dublin Airport. Opening the event, European Disability Forum (EDF) President, Yannis Vardakastanis, recalled that the regulation on air passengers with disabilities was in fact the first disability specific regulation which as ever adopted by the EU:

"This regulation has paved the way for more accessibility when travelling by air. It has also been followed by other regulations that promote the rights of passengers with disabilities in different transport modes. EDF has worked on this regulation from the beginning and followed its enforcement and implementation closely. Now, after 10 years, we can say that legislation is working and this legislation is effective in making transport more accessible and in ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities."

EDF Vice President , Gunta Anca, talked about what has changed for persons with disabilities when traveling by air: "Now, when I go to any airport in the EU, I know that assistance will be available and I can expect staff to have a certain level of training. Before this regulation, EDF received frequent complaints from air passengers with disabilities . The regulation has reduced these incidents because airlines have clear guidance on what their obligations are. They can now be held accountable for denying boarding to passengers with disabilities or for not providing them with assistance. However, in many cases air travel is still not sufficiently accessible and there is much space for improvement; all transport services should be accessible according to the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD)."

In her video message, the European Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc, emphasized: "This regulation is not only a symbolic achievement but a concrete example of positive EU action that changes the lives of 80 million persons with disabilities. We have come a long way but there is still some distance to cover. We need to make sure that the regulation is applied correctly."

The Commissioner also referred to the importance of spreading information about passengers’ rights and the adoption of the European Accessibility Act that will further improve accessibility. Member of the European Parliament, Marian Harkin, underlined the importance of involving the disability movement in making legislation that concerns the lives of persons with disabilities: "EDF and organisations of persons with disabilities play a huge role in the development of legislation like the regulation we celebrate here today."

Representatives from Dublin Airport and the Assistance Provider for Persons with Reduced Mobility cooperating with Dublin Airport explained how they try to improve accessibility and make it possible for more passengers with reduced mobility to travel.

Why is this regulation important?

The regulation on air passengers’ rights for persons with disabilities (regulation 1107/2006) foresees that:

  • Persons with disabilities have the right to transport and should not be denied boarding or booking;
  • Persons with disabilities should receive seamless assistance at the airport at no additional charge. The responsibility for the provision of the assistance lies in the hands of the managing body of the airport;
  • All staff dealing directly with the traveling public must receive disability-awareness and disability equality training;
  • Each EU Member State has to design a public body to monitor the implementation of this regulation and promote the enforcement of passengers’ rights.

REHACARE.com; Source: European Disability Forum
More about European Disability Forum at: www.edf-feph.org