Sumburgh ‘taking steps’ to improve help for disabled

Sumburgh Airport is "taking steps" to improve the support it offers disabled people.

SUMBURGH Airport has been told it has room for improvement when it comes to supporting passengers with a disability or reduced mobility by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The airport was deemed to be “taking steps”, which means it failed to meet the “good” criteria but is improving its accessibility.

Airport operator HIAL responded by saying it has already been working with Sumburgh – currently in the midst of a £6.5 million refurbishment – on improving communication when it comes to how disabled passengers can be assisted.

The CAA report ranked 30 of the UK’s airports on a number of criteria from April 2015 to March this year, including how long the passengers had to wait for assistance and the level of consultation with disability organisations.

A total of 11 other airports, including London Heathrow and Aberdeen, featured alongside Sumburgh in the “taking steps” category.

Ten were deemed “very good”, seven were placed in the “good” category and only Edinburgh Airport featured in the “poor” section.

HIAL managing director Inglis Lyon said one of the reasons why Sumburgh Airport found itself in the “taking steps” category was through failing to properly publicise its work in improving accessibility.

“We are grateful that the ‘taking steps’ rating for Sumburgh Airport in the report reflects some initial gaps around data collection and the communication of what we have been and are doing in respect of accessibility at the airport in what has always been an important area of consideration for everyone at HIAL,” he said.

“The team at Sumburgh are already taking steps to improve communication around accessibility on our website and other communication channels and we are confident that those changes will be reflected in a much higher rating next year.”

The CAA said that some airports that were given the ranking had “problems” with integrating new “processes”, resulting in some failing to submit or publish data in time or in full.

Head of consumer enforcement Matthew Buffey said the CAA’s research showed that 85 per cent of people were “satisfied or very satisfied” with special assistance at UK airports.

“However, high standards are not always universal, and occasionally things go wrong for disabled people and those with reduced mobility,” he said.

“These passengers are very much dependent on airport staff providing the appropriate assistance so it’s a really important task for airports to get right.

“We have worked closely with airports to help drive improvements and provide practical guidance where needed.

“Overall we are pleased that performance has generally been good, with some excellent examples of airports supporting their passengers who have mobility needs.”