The FINANCIAL -- easyJet’s special assistance advisory group (ESAAG) officially launched its Pan-European Charter on Meeting the Needs of Disabled Air Travellers at an event in the European Parliament on April 21.
The independent advisory group, which is chaired by former UK Labour MP David Blunkett, has advised the airline on the needs of passengers requiring special assistance since 2012. ESAAG was established by easyJet to provide easyJet with strategic advice and practical guidance on the evolving needs of passengers requiring special assistance, reviewing, challenging and improving easyJet’s policies and procedures. Every day easyJet flies around 1,000 passengers requiring special assistance - more than 350,000 passengers every year across its network, according to easyJet.
The Charter is based on lessons learned from the work of the group, which consists of well-respected external experts on passengers with reduced mobility (PRM) matters and easyJet representatives, as well as their practical insights while travelling across Europe. It contains concrete recommendations for airlines, airports, and policymakers on how to make travelling for PRM passengers easier and more consistent between countries and airports.
David Blunkett, ESAAG Chair, said: “Although European legislation to safeguard disabled passenger rights is in place, passengers still do not get a consistent level of service on any airline or airport in the EU. Additionally, while the legislation has raised awareness, many passengers are not fully informed on their rights and responsibilities. This charter should provide a useful and succinct guide to best practice. We call on all parties involved to improve information-sharing, particularly regarding who is responsible at each stage of the passenger journey.”
The event was hosted by MEP Lucy Anderson, a member of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee, who said: “‘Accessibility for all’ is an issue for which public support continues to grow. However, we know that in the field of transport, passengers with disabilities and reduced mobility continue to face significant barriers, be these physical or logistical. Evidence indicates that the approach taken by national enforcement bodies on PRM passenger rights when travelling by air varies widely and it is important that this issue remains high on both the Commission’s and Member States’ agendas.”
Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of the Civil Aviation Authority, said: "Passengers with a disability or reduced mobility should be confident that the 'special assistance' provided at airports and on board aircraft is both of a high quality and reliable.”
“We therefore welcome this new Pan-European Charter and would encourage all airports and airlines to consider its recommendations and whether they could be used to improve the services they currently provide.”
“In particular we support the Charter's focus on improving the information available to passengers with a disability or reduced mobility and on ensuring more consistency in the quality of special assistance available.”
“As the UK’s aviation regulator we are committed to improving the air travel experience for this group of passengers and continue to work closely with all UK airports and airlines to ensure they meet their legal obligations under EU law and make air travel as accessible as possible to all.”
Following the launch of the Charter, ESAAG members now aim to promote a discussion on its recommendations with various stakeholders around Europe.