Introduced by Alberto Casamatti, Director General Operations and Accountable Manager, Air Dolomiti, the Accessibility track at WPS examined regulations and attitudes in this critical area.

Laura Pierallini, CEO Pierallini Law Firm, noted that the Chicago Convention Annex 9 calls for the delivery of “special assistance” so that passengers with disabilities can receive the same service as the general public.

There are also regulations throughout the world. In Europe, there is Regulation 1107, which builds on Regulation 261 that deals with passenger service and disruptions. In addition, the European Accessibility Act must be implemented by 2025. This sets standards across the travel process, including in the booking process.

There are differences in the United States, which has the Air Carrier Access Act, where the term “passengers with reduced mobility” (PRM) is not so widely used. Indeed, there are problems with accessibility terminology. It was suggested that it can be difficult to differentiate between passengers who require information, help with language, special assistance, or are in an emergency situation.

Pre-notification is vital to accessibility and that has to improve. One issue is that there is a limited number of codes and services. The wheelchair code is the most common and yet it is just one element of accessibility. Diversification in notification and response is essential. There is an ageing population, for example, and this will be an important consideration going forward.

William Harkness, Head of Accessibility, Boeing, said that the biggest problem was the overall business model. Accessibility is seen as outside the normal parameters of business. Rather, there must be inclusive design and the aviation value chain must stop believing in the myth of the average person.

In fact, a panel highlighted the commercial opportunities this implies. Though accessibility must be fully inclusive, it is possible to charge for extra services that might be desired, as happens generally with travel. There could be an enormous market of untapped revenue.


The Panel

Sara Albalooshi, Aeropolitical Affairs, Etihad

Mark De Laurentiis, Director, Passenger Rights, ENAC

Diantha Raadgers, Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management Directorate General for Transport and Aviation, Netherlands



Alberto Casamatti, Director General Operations and Accountable Manager, Air Dolomiti

Laura Pierallini, CEO Pierallini Law Firm

William Harkness, Head of Accessibility, Boeing


Credit | iStock