Birmingham Airport praised for service to disabled
Birmingham Airport has been praised for providing an "excellent service" for disabled passengers as it tops a new league table.
It is one of just six UK airports classed as 'very good' by the aviation regulator in the way they deal with the disabled.
A new report from the Civil Aviation Authority said Birmingham: "provided a high quality assistance service throughout the year.
"Waiting times have been minimal, and users of the assistance service have consistently rated it as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ across a range of aspects of the passenger journey."
David Winstanley, chief operating officer at Birmingham Airport, said: “Birmingham Airport works closely with organisations that offer advice on how best to cater for people with disabilities and ensure that we provide the right service for those requiring support.
"We are therefore very proud to have received this recognition by the CAA for our work, particularly during a time of unprecedented growth, and we encourage anyone travelling from the airport to visit our dedicated resource page at birminghamairport.co.uk to help them plan and enjoy their journey.”
In sharp contrast, disabled passengers arriving at Heathrow Airport are being forced to wait up to two hours for assistance disembarking aircraft, the regulator said.
The west London hub is one of four airports where the service for wheelchair users and other disabled passengers was judged to be 'poor'. The others were Manchester, East Midlands and Exeter.
A survey of almost 1,200 passengers who use Heathrow's assistance service found that 62% rate it as 'poor' or 'very poor'.
The CAA recorded instances of passengers not being met on board arriving aircraft and not being treated with "dignity and respect".
CAA consumer enforcement manager James Fremantle said: "There have been a number of occasions where people have had to wait one to two hours on arrival at the airport.
"Our view is... disabled passengers shouldn't wait any longer than other passengers."
The CAA found that East Midlands Airport has had a "challenging year" with some disabled travellers suffering "unacceptably long waiting times" on arrival, particularly last summer.
Another 20 airports were described as 'good'.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said he is encouraged that "the overwhelming majority" of UK airports provide a good service for passengers with a disability but is "determined to push the aviation industry" to do more.