City airport lifts its game on access for the disabled

Edinburgh Airport has been working hard to make improvements to aid the disabled. Picture: Michael Gillen
Edinburgh Airport has been working hard to make improvements to aid the disabled. Picture: Michael Gillen
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Travellers with a disability can expect a more positive experience when flying from Edinburgh after the airport turned a “poor” accessibility rating to “very good”.

The airport was slammed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) only two years ago for poor performance when it came to customer satisfaction and waiting times for assistance.

But the latest accessibility report by the industry regulator showed a significant turnaround following a boost in the budget and appointment of new specialist assistance service provider Omniserv as its new supplier.

The airport has pumped investment into their fleet including two ambulifts, three minibuses and one avi-ramp, which improves the arrivals service and passenger experience.

A mobile app has also been introduced for passengers with reduced mobility and hidden disabilities, allowing for more personalised service.

Edinburgh Airport chief executive Gordon Dewar said engaging with disabled passengers had been the key to turning the service around.

He said: “We have placed greater emphasis on the PRM service over the past two years and to achieve a ‘very good’ rating is testament to the hard work put in by everyone involved.

“It’s been a long journey to turn the service around and we tackled that head on, 
investing more time, staff and funds into a service that we feel is crucial for our passengers and one we take pride in.

“But the most crucial aspect has been directly engaging with disabled passengers who have that lived experience, so we can listen, learn and implement changes that they have told us will improve the service.”

They are now the first airport in Scotland to achieve an Autism Friendly Award.

Trials of special wheelAIR chairs to cool the back and reduce the user’s core temperature are also being trialled.

The service at Edinburgh Airport was used by almost 88,000 people last year, up from 70,000 in 2016.

The airport has continued to invest in and improve the service.

Mr Dewar added: “From technology to training, we’ve made a range of changes, big and small, to make the overall experience better for passengers and that is a continual process. We’re happy with where we are, but we always strive to do better, so we’ll use this rating to drive that forward.”

Antony Marke, group managing director of OmniServ, said: “We are delighted that Edinburgh Airport has achieved a ‘very good’ rating from the CAA. Over the last two years, OmniServ and Edinburgh Airport have collaborated to ensure that we provide PRM services of the highest standards and a reflection of the values of both companies. Our work won’t stop here. OmniServ will continue to make investments in our people, equipment and the latest technology to enable us to deliver a highly satisfactory customer experience.”