Disabled passengers have won new rights of access to airline travel in the European Union (E.U.). The European Parliament has adopted measures to ensure E.U. airports help disabled travellers.
Under the new rules, all airports in E.U. countries have to provide a wheelchair to anyone who requires it at either end of the flight. For flights originating in the E.U., airport authorities are also responsible for providing a service to transfer disabled people from the airport car park to the check-in counter, as well as helping them to check-in, register baggage and board the aircraft. Similar services from the plane to the car park must be provided for all flights landing within E.U. countries.
The new rules were partly prompted by an outrage over the Irish budget airline Ryanair in 2002, which made Bob Ross, a disabled man, pay for his wheelchair when he had to take an international flight.
Airlines will now have to pay higher fees to cover the costs that airports will incur in complying with the new rules. Explaining the significance of the move, Stephen Hogan, spokesman for the Airports Council International, said, “What this guarantees is that people with reduced mobility will have the same access to air travel as other people.”
E.U. member states will be giving their formal approval to the proposed measures, which will be introduced over a two-year period.