July 07, 2007

UK: Aviation Becomes Accessible to All

Press release:

DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT News Release (077) issued by The Government News Network on 5 July 2007

Aviation Minister Jim Fitzpatrick today outlined measures coming in later
this month to give disabled people new rights when travelling by air in Europe.

From 26 July 2007 it will be illegal for an airline, travel agent or tour
operator to refuse a booking on the grounds of disability or to refuse to
embark a disabled person who has a valid ticket and reservation.

The law also covers persons with reduced mobility, including people who would not normally be classed as disabled, such as those with a temporary mobility problem.

The new rules will mean that anyone who has been refused boarding on the
grounds of disability or reduced mobility will be able to complain to the
Disability Rights Commission (DRC). The Commission will advise them on their
rights and could refer the matter to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)
which will have power to prosecute. If found guilty, an airline could face
an unlimited fine.

Mr Fitzpatrick said:

"The new measure coming into force later this month is only the first step
in ensuring that disabled people and those with reduced mobility have the
same access to air travel as others.

"The second stage, which will come into force next year, will bring further
significant benefits to disabled travellers. When all these measures are in
place disabled passengers will be assured that they can expect a consistent
and seamless level of service from airports and airlines."

Background Notes:

1. EC Regulation 1107/2006 imposes new legal obligations on airport operators,
air carriers, their agents or tour operators. The Regulation was largely
progressed under the UK's Presidency of the European Union in 2005.

2. The Regulation comes into force in two stages. The first stage (prohibiting
refusal of booking or embarkation) comes into force on 26 July 2007. In very
occasional circumstances these rights may not apply - for example, where there
are legitimate safety or technical reasons why a disabled person cannot board
an aircraft. The rest of the Regulation will apply from 26 July 2008. From
this date, airport managing bodies will be required to organise the provision
of the services necessary to enable disabled/reduced mobility passengers to
board, disembark and transit between flights, with costs recovered through
a charge on airlines proportionate to the total number of passengers they
carry to and from the airport.

3. The two stage approach gives the industry time to make changes to
contractual arrangements for provision of ground-handling assistance.

4. In the UK, the Civil Aviation Authority has been designated to enforce
the Regulation. The Disability Rights Commission has been designated to
handle complaints from passengers (along with the Consumer Council for
Northern Ireland).

5. The Government has worked with the UK aviation industry to produce a
voluntary code of practice (published in 2003) which aims to improve access
to air travel for disabled people. We intend to revise this code by 2008 to
reflect the new European Regulation and ensure the spread of good practice.

Press Enquires: 020 7944 3118
E-mail: press@dft.gov.uk
Out of Hours: 020 7944 4292
Public Enquiries: 020 7944 8300
Department for Transport Website: http://www.dft.gov.uk


Posted by rollingrains at July 7, 2007 08:53 PM