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Heathrow Airport Invests $30.7 Million in Services for Passengers with Disabilities

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Heathrow Airport Invests $30.7 Million in Services for Passengers with Disabilities

Heathrow Airport Invests $30.7 Million in Services for Passengers with Disabilities
December 20
13:00 2017

MIAMI – London Heathrow Airport (LHR) announced a new investment of $30.7 million to improve the travel experience of passengers with disabilities and mobility restrictions.

According to a report by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the number of Heathrow customers requesting particular assistance is increasing 8% annually; just in 2017, over one million passengers demanded the special service.

The report found the airport had failed to meet expectations on waiting times and customer satisfaction among disabled passengers. While the majority of UK airports were rated with “very good” or “good” service for them, Heathrow was showed as “poor,” as well as Manchester, East Midlands, and Exeter airports.

READ MORE: Manchester Airport Keeps Growing Despite Monarch’s Demise

LHR is upgrading the contract with OmniServ, its special assistance partner, to transform service for these passengers. Antony Marke, Group Managing Director of OmniServ, said they are “delighted to have the opportunity to continue working with Heathrow.”

“All passengers deserve to be treated with respect as they journey through the airport, no matter their personal status,” he added.

OmniServ have also been working with leading disability rights groups to ensure staff is trained “up-to-date with current thinking” and have the skills and tools to help every passenger.

Heathrow introduced on Monday a distinctive lanyard that will allow passengers that need help and support to identify themselves with airport staff.

It is supported by UK charities like the Alzheimer’s Society, the National Autistic Society and Action on Hearing Loss and was already established first at Gatwick to be rolled out in other UK airports.

READ MORE: New Heathrow Expansion Images Released

According to LHR, special assistance staff, security officers, and passenger ambassadors have been trained to identify the lanyard so they can provide additional assistance.

Roberto Castiglioni, chair of Heathrow Accessibility Advisory Group, said, “This is a great day for passengers at Heathrow, and we were proud to have been a part of ensuring the airport takes concrete steps towards being a more accessible and friendly space for people living with disabling conditions.”

Additionally, Heathrow Airport will add new signs across the airport, starting this month in Terminal 3, showing United Nations’ new symbol of accessibility. Signage will be a distinctive blue, easier for passengers to identify.

The airport also promoted a new app that is being used by passenger ambassadors and special assistance providers across LHR to access trained British Sign Language translators on demand to assist deaf passengers.

“We have more work to do yet, and we look forward to working with Heathrow to keep on improving the journeys of all,” added Castiglioni.

London Heathrow is the busiest airport in Europe by passenger traffic and is used by over 80 airlines flying to 185 destinations in 84 countries.

The airport is the primary hub of British Airways and is a base for Virgin Atlantic. Last November, Virgin Atlantic launched in-flight entertainment for blind passengers, becoming the first airline to offer IFE for customers that are visually impaired.

READ MORE: Virgin Atlantic Launches In-Flight Entertainment for Blind Passengers

In 2016, LHR handled a record 75.7 million passengers, a 1.0% increase from 2015.


About Author

María Corina Roldan

María Corina Roldan

Online Executive Editor. Journalist and Certified Radio Host. Studying for a Specialization in Public Opinion and Political Communications. Even though I love politics I've found myself fascinated by the Aviation World. I'm also passionate by economy, strategic communications, my family, my country, and dogs.

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