To mark the 10th anniversary of the adoption of Regulation (EC) 1107/2006 concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air, the European Disability Forum (EDF) partnered with the Airports Council International Europe (ACI Europe) to present a new Airport Award: the Accessible Airport Award.
The Accessible Airport Award aims to honour the best airport in Europe in terms of its level of accessibility as well as the range and the quality of the assistance services that it offers. It also intends to encourage other airports to continue their work on removing the barriers that people with disabilities and PRM still face when travelling by air. The jury was constituted of the members of the EDF Executive Committee , supported by the EDF expert group on transport, as well as Fotis Karamitsos of the Directorate-General for Energy and Transport (DG MOVE) of the European Commission.
At the award ceremony in Athens on 21 June, EDF Executive committee member Yannis Yallouros handed over the award to the winner: Dublin Airport. The judges considered that the airport excels in accessibility features and facilities, including adult changing places, two separate relief areas for guide dogs, fully accessible retail and catering areas alongside with service level agreements for assistance that exceed the standards of ECAC Doc 30, a guidance document by the European Civil Aviation Conference. The judges also cited Dublin Airport’s website accessibility, which is according to the AA standard of WCAG 2.0 (currently, the recommended level to ensure accessibility for persons with disabilities). Importantly, the level of service, as experienced directly by persons with disabilities travelling through Dublin Airport was consistently high.
The highly commended airport for the Accessible Airport Award was Larnaca Airport for the positive travelling experience it offers people with disabilities as well as for its great efforts to comply with accessibility standards.
The accessibility of airports and of air travel in general remains an important subject for EDF – in spite of strong legislation in the sector, many aspects of air travel are still not fully accessible for persons with disabilities. The initiative of the Accessible Airport Awards illustrates that it is possible to make an airport accessible and gives a good practice examples for other airports to follow. Accessibility also means better service quality which in return improves the whole travelling experience of all passengers, not just persons with disabilities.
This was the first edition of the Accessible Airport Awards. It has not been decided yet whether there will be a second edition of the awards in 2017but in conjunction with the award ceremony, EDF and ACI Europe have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to formalize the cooperation between the two organisations which will hopefully pave the way for similar initiatives in the future.