Accessibility Constrains in Air Transportation
(Comunicação em Conferência)
Air transport, more than any other form of transportation, presents many restrictions to disabled people. The difficulties in accessibility and all the logistics required to move along the airport and get into an aircraft are so many that most of the persons with reduced mobility (PRM) avoid it entirely. The improved recognition of the rights of PRM around the world made many forms of public transportation adapt and modify their vehicles and infrastructures to provide equal access for every person. However, in the airline industry the challenge is much higher, once to be equal, PRM must have autonomous and unhindered access to and inside the airport and the aircraft. Actually, about 80 million Europe citizens suffer from mobility impairments and by 2050 the expected rate of European population aged 65 and over is 25.1%; meaning, that in a few years the percentage of population with reduced mobility will be significant enough to justify an urgent but wise investment in aircraft and infrastructure adaptation, by airlines and airports industry. For PRM, flying is a real adventure, a circuit that takes time and requires several resources from the departure airport to the arrival airport. This paper objective is to identify the main problems, in what concerns the physical and psychological difficulties, that passengers with reduced mobility face when they wish to travel by aircraft. Therefore, an analysis regarding their travel experience from the airport until the aircraft was developed in order to identify which are the main obstacles that compromise these passenger’s autonomy and well-being. At the airport, the main constraints are the available facilities and services; as well as the attitudinal behaviour and preparation of the assistant staff to deal with disabled passengers. The physical transfers are also one of the most challenging difficulties experienced by PRM. The obstacles are many and to suppress any basic necessity during the flight, the passenger’s autonomy is compromised by the constant need of assistance. There are still many barriers in air transportation that compromise PRM rights but some improvements have been made, especially in terms of regulatory frameworks. However, most of the regulations against discrimination are not being met as it should. The type and the quality of service are essential to assure the return of the passenger; the main goal of airports and airlines must be to provide an assistance service that respects the passenger’s rights and makes her/him feel included and safe.