An investigation has been launched into the death of a disabled plane passenger who reportedly fell after getting off without a helper at Gatwick Airport.
The Sun cited a source who said the man, who police have said was 82, and his wife required special assistance to disembark.
The passenger was said to have fallen down an escalator after making his own way into the terminal at around 12.50pm on Wednesday.
Sussex Police confirmed the man’s next of kin had been informed and the death is not being treated as suspicious, while a report for the coroner will be prepared.
It comes days after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it had seen an increase in reports of “significant service failings” at airports, including incidents where passengers needing assistance have been taken off a plane hours after other passengers.
EasyJet confirmed the death on Wednesday in a statement, adding members of its cabin crew gave medical assistance to the unnamed passenger while waiting for help from paramedics.
The airline said: “A number of our cabin crew provided medical assistance to a passenger at Gatwick Airport whilst waiting for paramedics to arrive, however the passenger sadly later passed away.
“Our thoughts are with their family and friends at this difficult time.”
A Gatwick Airport spokesperson said the incident occurred while airport staff were helping to disembark three passengers with restricted mobility (PRM), adding staff shortages played no role in the incident.
The spokesperson said: “This is a sad and tragic incident and our thoughts remain with the family of the deceased.
Staff shortages were not a factor in this incident as has been claimed
Gatwick Airport spokesperson
“A member of Wilson James staff was waiting when the aircraft arrived and was in the process of disembarking the three PRM passengers when the incident occurred.
“Staff shortages were not a factor in this incident as has been claimed. It is normal for one staff member to disembark three passengers who require assistance by taking them one at a time the short distance to the waiting buggy.
“A formal investigation is currently under way and it would not be appropriate to comment further.”
A No 10 spokesman said: “It’s obviously a tragic incident and our thoughts are with the family and friends of the deceased in what is an incredibly sad time.”
A Sussex Police spokesperson said: “Emergency services were called to reports of a person having suffered a fall and injury at Gatwick North Terminal at approximately 12.50pm on Wednesday.
“Despite the efforts of the ambulance service and wider first responders, an 82-year-old man sadly died at the scene. His next of kin have been informed. The death is not being treated as suspicious. A report will be prepared for the coroner.”