Disability charity urges airlines not to forget disabled passengers amid staffing crisis

·1-min read

A disability charity has urged UK airlines not to forget its disabled passengers amid an ongoing staffing crisis.

Airports including Gatwick Airport in West Sussex have seen dozens of flights cancelled in the last fortnight due to staff shortages and increased demand caused by school half term.

Airlines, airports and ground handlers sacked thousands of employees in 2020 due to travel restrictions caused by the Covid pandemic.

Disability charity Scope is now urging airports and airlines to ensure disabled passengers are not forgotten.

Their plea comes as Victoria Brignell, a woman who is paralysed from the neck down, was left on a plane at Gatwick on Saturday for more than an hour and a half after assistance staff did not arrive to help her off the plane.

Her case was shared on social media by friend and journalist Sonia Sodha and it received significant attention, with Gatwick admitting its contractor’s response was “unacceptable”.

Scope fears more disabled passengers could face the same issues as Ms Brignell amid the current airport staffing crisis.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Louise Rubin, head of policy and campaigns at Scope said of Ms Brignell’s case: “This is appalling, and yet airline horror stories like this are far from rare for disabled people.

“Far too many disabled people endure stressful and degrading experiences when flying, such as being stranded on board or vital equipment like wheelchairs being damaged or lost.

“If staffing shortages continue to cause chaos at airports this summer, disabled passengers must not be forgotten or overlooked.”

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