Latest update 14/07/2015: please see below for more details.
Regulation (EC) 1107/2006 was introduced to allow disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility (PRMs) access to air travel on an equal footing with passengers without mobility limitations. This is achieved by providing specific rights to assistance, by assigning corresponding obligations to providers and thereby protecting disabled persons and PRMs from discrimination in exercising their rights while booking, purchasing and using air transport services. The overriding and fundamental principle of flight safety for all passengers and crew members must, of course, be observed.
Refusal to provide carriage or the requested assistance should always be exceptional. Therefore, before refusing carriage or assistance, assistance providers must consider alternative methods of providing the service requested. The provision of any service should however be proportionate to the circumstances of the request.
Any refusal to provide assistance or carriage should be clearly based on a reason contained within the Regulation. It should however be noted that, in order to allow service providers to arrange for the required assistance, it is essential that disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility notify their needs at least 48 hours before the published time of departure. Where no pre-notification was given, assistance providers should make all reasonable efforts to provide the requested assistance.
In June 2012, following a consultation exercise with aviation stakeholders and Associations representing PRMs, the European Commission published it’s Interpretative Guidelines on Regulation 1107/2006.
ERA’s Current Position
ERA and its member airlines support the rights of passengers with reduced mobility. However, the rights of PRMs (as is the case with all passengers) must at all times not impose on the safety of the aircraft and its operation.
Latest update 14/07/2015: The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) hosted a round table meeting in London to discuss how carriers, airports and disabled air travellers can take forward the main recommendations of the Charter and to share best practices, experiences, operational and organizational issues, as well as potential solutions to pave the way for a cooperative approach between air carriers, airport service providers and, ultimately, passengers with disabilities.
The number of people in Europe travelling with reduced mobility has been growing steadily for the past years and the European Regulation 1107/2006 defined the responsibilities of airlines and airports, giving passengers with reduced mobility (PRMs) a new set of rights.
Despite the many improvements made, passengers requiring special assistance continue to encounter some issues when travelling, largely around the level of awareness of their rights and responsibilities, as well as the join-ups between airports, airlines and special assistance providers.
The UK CAA shared the findings of a comprehensive survey recently conducted by the British Authorities to gather experiences of people who have disabilities or reduced mobility when travelling by air, as well as infrequent and non-flyers:
- Research reveals passengers with a disability or reduced mobility (PRM) are significantly less likely to fly than others, with many saying access worries are reasons not to fly. In total just 39 per cent of people with a disability are classified as ‘recent flyers’, meaning they have taken a flight in the past year. This compares with 52 per cent of those without a disability.
- However PRMs, who have flown in the last 12 months, are ‘confident flyers’ who are pleased with the ‘Special Assistance’ provided by airports and on airlines and are likely to fly multiple times a year. More specifically, 78 per cent of those who request in advance the special assistance they are entitled to, at airports and on airlines, are either ‘very satisfied’ (54 per cent) or ‘satisfied’ (24 per cent) with their air travel experience.
- Research identifies that one of the reasons for the disparity relates to concerns over access, including both physical and communication barriers, along with expectations that things could go wrong
- The main reason for people flying either infrequently or deciding not to fly was ‘budget constraints’.
Easyjet Special Assistance Advisory Group (ESAAG) members have developed a Pan-European Charter on Meeting the Needs of Disabled Air Travellers which sets out best practice for airlines, airports, and policymakers to clarify some of these grey areas. The charter (available via the downloads button) can be used as a valid reference for aviation stakeholders to best meet the requirements and needs of Disabled Air Travellers, including physical and non-physical PRMs. The document does not reflect the official views and positions formally endorsed by ERA or by the UK CAA. However it is presented as a potentially useful guidance to members and passengers with reduced mobility.
All associated papers are available by clicking on the Related Download button on this page.
For further assistance please contact Leonardo.Massetti@eraa.org