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Barrier-free Travel by Plane regulated

Barrier-free Travel by Plane regulated

Photo: Flying plane 

New rules entered into force to offer the disabled and the elderly access to air transport comparable to that of the other passengers flying from airports in the European Union.

“The phasing-in of these rules will put an end to discrimination and give disabled and elderly passengers the help they need”, says Jacques Barrot, Vice President of the European Commission in charge of transport. Due to the demographic aging, a growing part of the European population is affected by reduced mobility – these are mainly disabled and elderly people, while others are unable to walk long distances as often required in modern airports.

Not all airports provide comprehensive assistance, free of charge. These problems are addressed by a new Regulation which provides for persons with reduced mobility to travel by plane without difficulty. The Regulation’s provisions cover three areas:

First, for flights from airports in the EU, the Regulation prohibits the refusal by airlines and tour operators to carry passengers, or to take bookings, on the basis of reduced mobility. Exceptions can be made only for duly justified safety reasons. This should put an end to instances of discrimination.

Secondly, airports have to provide a specific set of services for persons with reduced mobility. Thirdly, on flights from EU airports, airlines will be obliged to provide certain services, such as the carrying of wheelchairs or guide dogs, free of charge.

The European Union’s Member States have to set up enforcement bodies responsible for ensuring that the Regulation is applied on their territory. Some Member States have already given the Commission the details of the body responsible, while others have indicated that they intend to designate their enforcement bodies shortly.

Any person affected by a disability or by reduced mobility who considers that these rights have not been respected can bring the matter to the attention of the management of the airport or the airline in question. In case of an unsatisfactory response, a complaint can be made to the national enforcement body designated by the Member State.

Bloggers criticised, however, that barrier-free toilets on board of the planes are not included in the Regulation.

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