Supporting the needs of special assistance (including PRM) passengers: An international survey of disabled air passenger rights legislation

Elsevier, Journal of Air Transport Management, Volume 87, August 2020, 101851
Authors: 
Lucy Bud & Stephen Ison

Passengers who require special assistance at airports and on aircraft represent one of the fastest growing demographics for aviation worldwide. At some airports, annual growth in PRM (persons with reduced mobility) traffic is six times greater than the overall rate of passenger growth yet barriers to accessible air travel remain and disabled passengers continue to exhibit a lower propensity to fly than other travellers. In an attempt to aid disabled passengers’ accessibility to air travel, countries have introduced dedicated air passenger rights and consumer protection legislation which seeks to specifically address the needs of disabled travellers. These regulations typically state minimum service standards and levels of service provision that must be provided by air transport operators to enable disabled travellers to access air travel on an equal basis to other passengers. These legal interventions, however, have been developed on a country-by-country basis and this has created a lack of international regulatory alignment. This paper reports on the findings of an international survey of disabled air passenger rights legislation in 47 countries covering 20 aviation markets (the single market in the European Union and 19 other States). It identifies the differences in regulatory frameworks, highlights their implications for consumers and ultimately concludes by recommending the formation of more harmonised global policy making to better support the needs of special assistance passengers and facilitate their greater mobility by air.