This weekend I fly to Dubai for the first ever symposium on accessibility in air travel held by IATA, titled ‘Global Accessibility Symposium’. This follows IATA’s recent statement in Seoul from Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
“Airlines were ahead of their time when, 50 years ago, we set out standards to ensure passengers with disabilities had access to air travel. But now we need to go further. The numbers of persons with disabilities travelling by air are set to increase significantly as populations expand and grow older. We applaud the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. With today’s resolution the industry is committed to ensure that passengers living with disability can travel safely and with dignity,”
I think the last line of this statement is the most important, travel safely and with dignity. I will be driving this all the way to Fait Accompli; the biggest challenge will be those who need to travel in their own postural built power wheelchair. My research tells me this is not the biggest technical challenge aviation has ever faced by a long way; however culturally it will be a shot in the arm.
However, quite rightly the Symposium will cover a host of accessibility subjects, all of which need remedies. There is already great work being done: airports are already implementing procedures and looking at their infrastructure. Astute airports are (or have) put together advisory groups to identify where the challenges are – more importantly seeking solutions. With the help of the legislators and regulators, statutory guidelines will be put in place with a view to harmonisation.
I for one am glad to have IATA on board with this initiative, if you are not including then you are excluding. With their help we have a road towards truly making ‘Flying for All’.