Leeds Bradford Airport 'needs to improve performance' for disabled passengers says aviation watchdog

Leeds Bradford Airport has been asked to make improvements by the aviation watchdog because disabled passengers are left waiting too long for assistance.

Thursday, 11th July 2019, 4:33 pm
Plane landing at Leeds Bradford Airport. (Credit: PA)

In a report on airport accessibility, published by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Leeds Bradford only narrowly achieved a 'good' standard for 2018/19.

The CAA said that waiting times for disabled passengers arriving at the airport were too long, particularly in the first half of the year.

It told Leeds Bradford to improve its assistance in order to achieve a 'good' rating next year when ranking standards are revised.

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In the report, the watchdog said: "Leeds Bradford and London City had longer waiting times for arriving passengers in the first half of the year and as a result, narrowly achieved a good standard for the whole year.

"We will make clear to these...airports that they need to improve their performance to achieve the required standard under our revised performance standards which are in effect from this year."

The CAA ranks airports as 'very good', 'good', 'needs improvement' or 'poor'.

No UK airports were rated as poor this year for the first time since the survey was created in 2016, but Manchester Airport was found to need improvement.

Helen Pearce, customer experience manager at Leeds Bradford Airport, said: “We work hard to make Leeds Bradford Airport a safe and accessible place for those with disabilities and requiring special assistance and we continually look to make improvements for the benefit of our passengers.

"We take the feedback from the latest Civil Aviation Authority's Airport Accessibility Report seriously and are committed to reducing waiting times for arriving passengers in order to fall in line with new CAA standards.

“We invest significant time and resource in training staff to make sure they are well equipped to serve passengers that require special assistance.

"Some of the provisions and processes that we have in place include specialised equipment, a dedicated assistance desk located at our terminal entrance, dedicated seating areas, quiet routes through the terminal and a lanyard scheme to assist passengers with non-visible disabilities.

"We also engage with local disability groups throughout the year to improve our services and facilities for special assistance passengers.”

Humberside and Doncaster Sheffield airports were rated as 'very good' and praised for their high quality service and commitment to disabled passengers.

However, the report found that across the UK, nearly a quarter of respondents who requested assistance did so because airports are becoming more difficult for them to navigate.

CAA director of consumers and markets, Paul Smith, said: "These results show significant improvements to the experience many disabled passengers faced before our reporting began.

"We hope this will help passengers to feel confident and empowered to travel from UK airports.

"While it is good to see the general improvements, airports will need to continue to work hard to improve, so that they are able to meet the more demanding performance standards that we have now introduced.

"Where we see examples of bad practice, we will not hesitate to hold airports to account and take the necessary action."