'GO' partnership to help airport passengers
14 June 2013
Aberdeen International Airport has launched a partnership with a leading North-East disability charity – which is hoped will help disabled people react to a new government policy.
The Self Directed Support Act was passed in January of this year, and will allow disabled people to decide how they are supported rather than opting for traditional care resources. It is hoped this will change the way people receive and manage their care.
It is expected that a number of people will use air services more frequently as a result when this policy comes into force in 2014, choosing to fly on short breaks rather than opting for traditional respite services.
As a result Aberdeen International Airport has entered into partnership with Grampian Opportunities – the Inverurie-based charity that works to promote opportunities for disabled people and those with mental ill-health.
Phase one of the partnership saw a group of people with a variety of conditions spend a day at the airport. This allowed them to assess the whole airport experience from end to end, ultimately identifying areas which could cause concern or anxiety for disabled travellers. The visiting party were able to provide feedback on signage, PRM facilities (Passengers with Reduced Mobility) and ambiance. It is hoped that the partnership can lead to an improved airport experience for people with mobility issues, sensory impairment and autism among other conditions.
Phase two will see the team from Grampian Opportunities bring first time fliers on familiarisation visits, to help them acclimatise to the airport environment before they start their journeys.
Kevin Douglas is the airport Terminal Operations Manager who initiated the partnership. He said: “Whilst we offer existing PRM facilities through our special assistance partners G4S, it is all too easy for the team here to become so familiar with the airport that they find it hard to see their journey through the eyes of the first time passenger. In the event that those passengers may be intimidated by the airport environment, it is important to get their feedback. Together with ‘GO’ we can work on new projects which will benefit the full spectrum of our passenger mix. Much of what we gleaned from these visits can be consider as part of our long term terminal redevelopment plans, as well as some quick fix opportunities.
Shona Owen, Project Worker from Grampian Opportunities said: “Our team of volunteers and partner workers were delighted with the enthusiastic welcome from all the staff we met at Aberdeen International Airport. The airport team are eager to learn more about improving passenger experience from people who actually live with disabling conditions.
“Part of our Scottish Government funded project is to raise awareness about Self-Directed Support and the airport team are keen to learn how this has the potential to increase passenger numbers. We were greatly impressed by the results of our meeting and our next group are very much looking forward to taking their part in this on-going collaboration.”
Dame Anne Begg MP (Aberdeen South) said: “As someone who uses the airport weekly, I know my way around and how to summon help. However, it can be a daunting and confusing place for someone with a disability using the airport for the first time, so I welcome the partnership between Aberdeen International Airport and Grampian Opportunities. Anything which can make the customer journey easier and safer will be a great help."