On the 5th of July 2006, The European Parliament adopted Regulation (EC) 1107/2006, which identifies rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air.
The idea behind this legislation is to determine the duties and rights of people with reduced mobility traveling by air. This is achieved with the identification of subjects responsible for the provision of services and support. EU 1107/2006 also describes the type of services, and defines verification and enforcement mechanisms.
For the purpose of this breakdown, we feature the most relevant articles and chapters of EU 1107/2006. However, full copy of the regulation is available here: EU 1107/2006 (opens a new window).
Article 1 ~ Purpose and scope
1. This Regulation establishes rules for the protection of and provision of assistance to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility travelling by air, both to protect them against discrimination and to ensure that they receive assistance.
2. The provisions of this Regulation shall apply to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility, using or intending to use commercial passenger air services on departure from, on transit through, or on arrival at an airport, when the airport is situated in the territory of a Member State to which the Treaty applies.
3. Articles 3, 4 and 10 shall also apply to passengers departing from an airport situated in a third country to an airport situated in the territory of a Member State to which the Treaty applies, if the operating carrier is a Community air carrier.
4. This Regulation shall not affect the rights of passengers established by Directive 90/314/EEC and under Regulation (EC) No 261/2004.
Notes: Article 1, paragraph 2 fails to identify its applicability to non EU carriers. For this reason, the vast majority of non European air carriers feel no obligation to comply with the regulation. Article 1, paragraph 3, creates further confusion as it introduces variables to the applicability of services for EU carriers.
Article 2 ~ Definitions
(a) ‘disabled person’ or ‘person with reduced mobility’ means any person whose mobility when using transport is reduced due to any physical disability (sensory or locomotor, permanent or temporary), intellectual disability or impairment, or any other cause of disability, or age, and whose situation needs appropriate attention and adaptation to his or her particular needs of the service made available to all passengers;
(f) ‘managing body of the airport’ or ‘managing body’ means a body which notably has as its objective under national legislation the administration and management of airport infrastructures, and coordination and control of the activities of the various operators present in an airport or airport system;
Notes: Article 2, paragraph (a) is a blanket cover of all possible forms of temporary or permanent disabilities and impairments. In fact, it can also be connected to infants and toddlers "mobility reduced due to age". Article 2, paragraph (f) introduces the Managing Body of the airport.
Author's opinion: one of the main issues with this legislation is the separation of roles between the air carrier and the managing body of the airport. These two subjects are assigned different sets of responsibilities and duties. However, at some point, these duties and responsibilities overlap, creating a legal vacuum which ultimately leaves PRMs unprotected.
Article 3 ~ Prevention of refusal of carriage
An air carrier or its agent or a tour operator shall not refuse, on the grounds of disability or of reduced mobility:
(a) to accept a reservation for a flight departing from or arriving at an airport to which this Regulation applies;
(b) to embark a disabled person or a person with reduced mobility at such an airport, provided that the person concerned has a valid ticket and reservation.
Notes: the use of the auxiliary verb "shall" in a legal document express obligation. In Article 3, the determination to non discrimination could not be made more clear.
Article 4 ~ Derogations, special conditions and information
1. Notwithstanding the provisions of Article 3, an air carrier or its agent or a tour operator may refuse, on the grounds of disability or of reduced mobility, to accept a reservation from or to embark a disabled person or a person with reduced mobility:
(a) in order to meet applicable safety requirements established by international, Community or national law or in order to meet safety requirements established by the authority that issued the air operator's certificate to the air carrier concerned;
(b) if the size of the aircraft or its doors makes the embarkation or carriage of that disabled person or person with reduced mobility physically impossible.
In the event of refusal to accept a reservation on the grounds referred to under points (a) or (b) of the first subparagraph, the air carrier, its agent or the tour operator shall make reasonable efforts to propose an acceptable alternative to the person in question.
A disabled person or a person with reduced mobility who has been denied embarkation on the grounds of his or her disability or reduced mobility and any person accompanying this person pursuant to paragraph 2 of this Article shall be offered the right to reimbursement or re-routing as provided for in Article 8 of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004. The right to the option of a return flight or re-routing shall be conditional upon all safety requirements being met.
2. Under the same conditions referred to in paragraph 1, first subparagraph, point (a), an air carrier or its agent or a tour operator may require that a disabled person or person with reduced mobility be accompanied by another person who is capable of providing the assistance required by that person.
Author's opinion: Article 4, paragraph 1 is straight forward. However, Article 4, paragraph 2 introduces the possibility of the air carrier requiring the person with reduced mobility to travel with a carer. In this case, the regulation should pass the cost of the carer's ticket on to the carrier, given that said demand is imposed by the airline.
Article 5 ~ Designation of points of arrival and departure
Article 5 defines the managing body of an airport duty to designate points of arrival and departure within the airport terminal building. People with reduced mobility should proceed to these areas to receive assistance.
Notes: In addition to such designated areas, PRMs can also use the airline check-in counter are point of departure from which they will begin receiving assistance.
Article 6 ~ Transmission of information
1. Air carriers, their agents and tour operators shall take all measures necessary for the receipt, at all their points of sale in the territory of the Member States to which the Treaty applies, including sale by telephone and via the Internet, of notifications of the need for assistance made by disabled persons or persons with reduced mobility.
2. When an air carrier or its agent or a tour operator receives a notification of the need for assistance at least 48 hours before the published departure time for the flight, it shall transmit the information concerned at least 36 hours before the published departure time for the flight:
(a) to the managing bodies of the airports of departure, arrival and transit, and
(b) to the operating air carrier, if a reservation was not made with that carrier, unless the identity of the operating air carrier is not known at the time of notification, in which case the information shall be transmitted as soon as practicable.
3. In all cases other than those mentioned in paragraph 2, the air carrier or its agent or tour operator shall transmit the information as soon as possible.
Author's opinion: glitches in the transmission of information system are the usual suspects when there are cases concerning delayed or unavailable support. The lack of a common standard of communication between airlines and managing bodies is the leading cause behind these glitches.
Article 7 ~ Right to assistance at airports
1. When a disabled person or person with reduced mobility arrives at an airport for travel by air, the managing body of the airport shall be responsible for ensuring the provision of the assistance specified in Annex I in such a way that the person is able to take the flight for which he or she holds a reservation, provided that the notification of the person's particular needs for such assistance has been made to the air carrier or its agent or the tour operator concerned at least 48 hours before the published time of departure of the flight. This notification shall also cover a return flight, if the outward flight and the return flight have been contracted with the same air carrier.
Notes: The following are the provisions of Annex I
ANNEX I ~ Assistance under the responsibility of the managing bodies of airports
Assistance and arrangements necessary to enable disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility to:
— communicate their arrival at an airport and their request for assistance at the designated points inside and outside terminal buildings mentioned in Article 5,
— move from a designated point to the check-in counter,
— check-in and register baggage,
— proceed from the check-in counter to the aircraft, with completion of emigration, customs and security procedures,
— board the aircraft, with the provision of lifts, wheelchairs or other assistance needed, as appropriate,
— proceed from the aircraft door to their seats,
— store and retrieve baggage on the aircraft,
— proceed from their seats to the aircraft door,
— disembark from the aircraft, with the provision of lifts, wheelchairs or other assistance needed, as appropriate,
— proceed from the aircraft to the baggage hall and retrieve baggage, with completion of immigration and customs procedures,
— proceed from the baggage hall to a designated point,
— reach connecting flights when in transit, with assistance on the air and land sides and within and between terminals as needed,
— move to the toilet facilities if required.
Where a disabled person or person with reduced mobility is assisted by an accompanying person, this person must, if requested, be allowed to provide the necessary assistance in the airport and with embarking and disembarking.
Ground handling of all necessary mobility equipment, including equipment such as electric wheelchairs subject to warning of 48 hours and to possible limitations of space on board the aircraft, and subject to the application of relevant legislation concerning dangerous goods.
Temporary replacement of damaged or lost mobility equipment, albeit not necessarily on a like‑for‑like basis. Ground handling of recognised assistance dogs, when relevant. Communication of information needed to take flights in accessible formats.
Author's opinion: Some of the tasks Annex I assigns to the managing body of the airport demonstrate this legislation was conceived by people with little practical knowledge of traveling by air and of airlines' operational standards. Assistance on board the aircraft, specifically to move from the aircraft door to the assigned seat and vice versa, and storage of luggage in the overhead lockers are tasks that should fall under the responsibility of the aircraft crew. Ground handling of mobility equipment is also source of confusion and potential conflict of roles between the airport managing body and the baggage loader of the air carrier.
2. Where use of a recognised assistance dog is required, this shall be accommodated provided that notification of the same is made to the air carrier or its agent or the tour operator in accordance with applicable national rules covering the carriage of assistance dogs on board aircraft, where such rules exist.
3. If no notification is made in accordance with paragraph 1, the managing body shall make all reasonable efforts to provide the assistance specified in Annex I in such a way that the person concerned is able to take the flight for which he or she holds a reservation.
4. The provisions of paragraph 1 shall apply on condition that:
(a) the person presents himself or herself for check-in:
(i) at the time stipulated in advance and in writing (including by electronic means) by the air carrier or its agent or the tour operator, or
(ii) if no time is stipulated, not later than one hour before the published departure time, or
(b) the person arrives at a point within the airport boundary designated in accordance with Article 5:
(i) at the time stipulated in advance and in writing (including by electronic means) by the air carrier or its agent or the tour operator, or
(ii) if no time is stipulated, not later than two hours before the published departure time.
5. When a disabled person or person with reduced mobility transits through an airport to which this Regulation applies, or is transferred by an air carrier or a tour operator from the flight for which he or she holds a reservation to another flight, the managing body shall be responsible for ensuring the provision of the assistance specified in Annex I in such a way that the person is able to take the flight for which he or she holds a reservation.
6. On arrival by air of a disabled person or person with reduced mobility at an airport to which this Regulation applies, the managing body of the airport shall be responsible for ensuring the provision of the assistance specified in Annex I in such a way that the person is able to reach his or her point of departure from the airport as referred to in Article 5.
7. The assistance provided shall, as far as possible, be appropriate to the particular needs of the individual passenger.
Notes: Article 7, paragraph 3, states that a person with reduced mobility has right to receive assistance even if there was no request made 48 prior to the time of departure, provided the person arrives at the check-in counter of the airline at least 2 hours before the time of departure.
Author's opinion: Article 7, paragraph 7, is of paramount importance. With so many conditions causing reduced mobility, and even more variables to the main condition, adequate training of personnel providing assistance are one of the key area of the legislation. Being capable of pushing a wheelchair is not enough to qualify a person to operate on behalf of the airport managing body.
Article 8 ~ Responsibility for assistance at airports
1. The managing body of an airport shall be responsible for ensuring the provision of the assistance specified in Annex I without additional charge to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility.
Article 9 - Quality standards for assistance
1. With the exception of airports whose annual traffic is less than 150 000 commercial passenger movements, the managing body shall set quality standards for the assistance specified in Annex I and determine resource requirements for meeting them, in cooperation with airport users, through the Airport Users Committee where one exists, and organisations representing disabled passengers and passengers with reduced mobility.
3. The managing body of an airport shall publish its quality standards.
Article 10 ~ Assistance by air carriers
An air carrier shall provide the assistance specified in Annex II without additional charge to a disabled person or person with reduced mobility departing from, arriving at or transiting through an airport to which this Regulation applies provided that the person in question fulfils the conditions set out in Article 7(1), (2) and (4).
Notes: The following are the provisions of Annex II
-Carriage of recognised assistance dogs in the cabin, subject to national regulations.
-In addition to medical equipment, transport of up to two pieces of mobility equipment per disabled person or person with reduced mobility, including electric wheelchairs (subject to warning of 48 hours and to possible limitations of space on board the aircraft, and subject to the application of relevant legislation concerning dangerous goods.
-Communication of essential information concerning a flight in accessible formats.
-The making of all reasonable efforts to arrange seating to meet the needs of individuals with a disability or reduced mobility on request and subject to safety requirements and availability.
-Assistance in moving to toilet facilities if required.
-Where a disabled person or person with reduced mobility is assisted by an accompanying person, the air carrier will make
-all reasonable efforts to give such person a seat next to the disabled person or person with reduced mobility.
Author's opinion: I make reference to the last provision of Annex II. I am a firm believer of the mandatory seating assignment rule. Legislators across the world must make it mandatory for airlines to provide sequential seating arrangements (persons seated next to each other) in the following cases: carer of person with disabilities irrespective of the age; parent/legal guardian of a minor under the age of 16.
Article 11~ Training
Air carriers and airport managing bodies shall:
(a) ensure that all their personnel, including those employed by any sub-contractor, providing direct assistance to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility have knowledge of how to meet the needs of persons having various disabilities or mobility impairments;
b) provide disability-equality and disability-awareness training to all their personnel working at the airport who deal directly with the travelling public;
(c) ensure that, upon recruitment, all new employees attend disability‑related training and that personnel receive refresher training courses when appropriate.
Notes: compliance to Article 11 by air carriers and airport managing bodies is key to the effectiveness of this legislation.
Article 12 ~ Compensation for lost or damaged wheelchairs, other mobility equipment and assistive devices
Where wheelchairs or other mobility equipment or assistive devices are lost or damaged whilst being handled at the airport or transported on board aircraft, the passenger to whom the equipment belongs shall be compensated, in accordance with rules of international, Community and national law.
Notes: this article creates a conflict of liability between subjects providing assistance, de facto creating a legal vacuum that may damage compensation rights of the service user.
Article 13 ~ Exclusion of waiver
Obligations towards disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility pursuant to this Regulation shall not be limited or waived.
Article 14 ~ Enforcement body and its tasks
1. Each Member State shall designate a body or bodies responsible for the enforcement of this Regulation as regards flights departing from or arriving at airports situated in its territory. Where appropriate, this body or bodies shall take the measures necessary to ensure that the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility are respected, including compliance with the quality standards referred to in Article 9(1). The Member States shall inform the Commission of the body or bodies designated.
2. Member States shall, where appropriate, provide that the enforcement body or bodies designated under paragraph 1 shall also ensure the satisfactory implementation of Article 8, including as regards the provisions on charges with a view to avoiding unfair competition. They may also designate a specific body to that effect.
Note to paragraph 1: The legislation enforcement body in the U.K. is the Civil Aviation Authority.
Article 15 ~ Complaint procedure
1. A disabled person or person with reduced mobility who considers that this Regulation has been infringed may bring the matter to the attention of the managing body of the airport or to the attention of the air carrier concerned, as the case may be.
2. If the disabled person or person with reduced mobility cannot obtain satisfaction in such way, complaints may be made to any body or bodies designated under Article 14(1), or to any other competent body designated by a Member State, about an alleged infringement of this Regulation.
3. A body in one Member State which receives a complaint concerning a matter that comes under the responsibility of a designated body of another Member State shall forward the complaint to the body of that other Member State.
4. The Member States shall take measures to inform disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility of their rights under this Regulation and of the possibility of complaint to this designated body or bodies.
Article 16 - Penalties
The Member States shall lay down rules on penalties applicable to infringements of this Regulation and shall take all the measures necessary to ensure that those rules are implemented. The penalties provided for must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive. The Member States shall notify those provisions to the Commission and shall notify it without delay of any subsequent amendment affecting them.
Notes: To date, 7 September 2011, the Civil Aviation Authority enforcement powers are limited to criminal prosecution. The U.K. Department of Transport is said to be working on changing enforcement powers to a civil procedure to authorize the imposition of fines.
Notes and References:
The content of this page is for information and guidance only. The content of this page shall not be treated, seen or considered as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact a solicitor.
EU Regulation 1107/2006 (opens a new window)
Civil Aviation Authority (opens a new window)
Equality and Human Rights Commission (opens a new window)
Consumer Council for Northern Ireland (opens a new window)