Damning Commons Report Exposes DfT Inaction On Access To Air Travel
- Written by Roberto Castiglioni
The access to transport for disabled people report of the House of Commons Transport Committee exposes the DfT inaction on access to air travel.
The House of Commons published today the access to transport for disabled people report (link opens a new window). The report paints a bleak picture of the Government support to access to public and private transport for people with special needs.
Lib Dem Transport Minister Norman Baker MP is once again enjoying the kind of public exposure every politician dreads.
The report highlights missed opportunities, inaction and lack of coordinated efforts between the DfT and other Governmental departments. “We are surprised at the lack of such co-ordination and engagement currently between departments…”
The Transport Committee expressed “concerns about the lack of information available...” Inability to reach mainstream media remains a critical issue, even more so where there is a requirement to pre-notify the airline or airport of personal special needs.
The Transport Committee asked the DfT to seek to amend the air travel equality regulations (EC 1107/2006) to require airlines to allow carers to travel free of charge on an aircraft, where an airline judges a disabled person to be incapable of travelling independently contrary to the individual’s self-assessment.
Reduced Mobility Rights has been advocating free or deeply discounted travel companion fares since its participation to the consultation process for the drafting of the EU Interpretative Guidelines at the beginning of 2012 (link opens a new window). However, this remains a mere recommendation to air carriers by the EU Commission.
"We would like to thank you for your detailed comments on the application of Regulation 1107/2006," Jean Louis Colson, Head of Unit of the Directorate General for Mobility and Transport at the European Commission told Reduced Mobility Rights. "Your contribution has been a valuable input in the context of the preparation of guidelines for the application of this regulation."
The DfT is also asked to “urge the European Commission to bring forward proposals on adequate compensation by airlines for damaged mobility equipment. The current limit is set at 1.131 Special Drawing Rights, approximately £1.180. The House of Commons Transport Committee report erroneously puts the limit to £1.800.
The EU Parliament is currently discussing the possibility to waive this limit. However, this would be introduced in the revision of EC261/2004, the regulation concerning passengers’ right to compensation in case of flight delays and cancellations.
However, the Transport Committee failed to identify one of the core issues concerning the implementation of Air Travel Equality regulation EC1107/2006 (link opens a new window) in the UK.
The UK Civil Aviation is unable to enforce the regulation because the Department for Transport has failed to adopt civil sanctions. "We do have enforcement powers, but these are limited to the ability to take a criminal prosecution. Unfortunately, [enforcement] powers are not very flexible or proportionate and make it difficult for us to take action," Dame Deirdre Hutton, Chair of the CAA, said in April 2011. Nothing has changed since. Despite hundreds of complaints each year, the CAA has yet to bring its first enforcement case to court.