Disabled passengers visiting the Newcastle Airport website are unlikely to find complete information, this report unveils.
Owned by a joint venture between seven local authorities and Copenhagen Airport, Newcastle Airport is a mid-size facility, serving a number of internal, European and extra-European destinations.
In 2010, 4,356,130 passengers transited the airport. According to statistics, passengers with reduced mobility and disabilities are, on average, 1.4% of all passengers. We assume Newcastle Airport handled approximately 61,000 passengers with reduced mobility and other impairments in 2010.
To ensure smoother travel experiences, disabled passengers and their carers are advised to plan their journey through airport terminals ahead of reaching the airport. Having all necessary information on hand is of paramount importance to passengers with physical impairments. The more user-friendly, accessible, accurate, and complete information is, the easier the travel experience will be. In this day and age, airport websites are the first stop for information gathering, which makes them a target for review.
Reduced Mobility Rights is conducting a review of the current state of European airport websites. The review aims to determine if websites provide accessible, essential information to disabled passengers and persons with reduced mobility.
Airport websites are assessed using the following criteria: accessibility from the website home page, quality of immediately available content, quality of downloadable content, quality of contact information within the "Special Assistance" page.
The assessment of the Newcastle Airport website dates 29 January 2012. Screen shots of assessed pages date 29 January 2012.
Link to Newcastle Airport Website (opens a new window)
Accessibility from the airport's website home page:
Fail: The direct link "accessibility" at the middle of the home page leads to an error 404 page. A working link to the special needs page can be found clicking the "airport facilities" tab on the top navigation bar of the home page. Once on the airport facilities page, users must click the "Passengers of Restricted Mobility" in the sub menu to the left side of the page. Update 7 February 2012: Link from homepage has been fixed.
Quality of immediately available content:
Fail: Content of the special assistance page does not include the airport Quality Standards, in violation of Article 9, EU 1107/2006. A paragraph of the page caught our attention: "Those customers who require special assistance but not wheelchair assistance should be aware that this is the responsibility of the airline handling agents and that any requests for assistance should be booked in advance." This interpretation is misleading and in violation of Article 8, EU 1107/2006. It is the responsibility of the airport managing company to provide assistance to passengers with reduced mobility and other impairments. The full extent of assistance is described in Annex I of EU 1107/2006 (Link to EU 1107/2006).
Quality of downloadable content:
Fail: There is no downloadable material pertaining passengers with reduced mobility or disability on the page, or elsewhere on the Newcastle Airport website.
Quality of contact information within the "Special Assistance" page:
Fail: There is no contact information on the special assistance page.
It is highly recommendable that Newcastle Airport managing company takes immediate action to rebuild their website section dedicated to disability travel services.
To assist airport managing companies in need to improve their website pages dedicated to disability travel assistance, Reduced Mobility Rights publishes the Airport Website Gold Standard, a range of guidelines highlighting all relevant information that should be made available to disabled passengers.
It is an embarrassment for the city of Newcastle and the United Kingdom that Newcastle Airport has such poor quality standards. Breaches to EU regulation 1107/2006 are a matter of public concern. This report has been shared with the Civil Aviation Authority for their review.