On the eve of Passenger Terminal Conference 2016 in Cologne, the Head of Passenger Rights Unit at the EU Commission gives an insight on the state of affairs of access to air travel in Europe.
Jean-Louis Colson joined the European Commission in 1985 after graduating in France in Political Sciences and Business Administration. He has been in charge of passenger rights in all modes of transport at the Directorate General for Mobility and Transport since January 2012.
The creation of a single market for aviation in the 1990s has brought European citizens important benefits, including a wider choice of destinations and carriers and lower fares.
“Air travel has become in the reach of the majority of citizens and is thus often indispensable for active participation in economic and social life, notably for work, visiting family and friends and for enjoying leisure and tourism,” Jean-Louis Colson said. “Consequently, comparable opportunities for air travel should also be open to persons with disabilities or with reduced mobility, by taking into account special requirements of these persons to use air transport confidently.”
The adoption of Regulation (EC) 1107/2006 concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air in 2006 was only one milestone in a number of initiatives that the Commission has taken since the year 2000 in the context of the EU's policy of non-discrimination, which is enshrined in Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and in Article 13 of the EC Treaty. Specific rights for passengers with disabilities exist now in all modes of transport.
Regulation (EC) 1107/2006 ensures that persons with disabilities are protected against discrimination when travelling by air and that they receive adequate free of charge assistance to allow them to travel on an equal footing with other air passengers. Airports and air carriers share responsibilities to provide assistance to persons with reduced mobility and other disabilities.
“Since the adoption of the Regulation, the Commission has launched a sequence of awareness raising activities and adopted interpretative guidelines to further improve the application of the Regulation by the air transport industry and by the Member States,” Colson said. “As a result, overall, the Regulation has provided real added value and works well. The Commission now focusses mainly on effective enforcement and good practice.”
Jean-Louis Colson will be speaking at the Passenger Terminal Conference in Cologne on 15 March 2016. Click here to read more about the Ageing Population and PRMs track of #PTECologne