Disability Royal Commission chair Ronald Sackville has written to the CEOs of Australia’s airlines and domestic airports outlining concerns people with disability have reported to the Commission based on their experiences with air travel.
The letter includes suggestions made by people with disability at recent workshops to ensure that airlines and domestic airports provide a more inclusive experience for all air travellers.
The Chair said:
“The Royal Commission’s terms of reference require us to investigate how Australia can promote a more inclusive society for people with disability. It summarises views expressed by people with disability at the workshops. The summaries are not findings or authoritative statements by the Royal Commission, but indicate that people with disability often experience avoidable challenges when travelling by air and more can be done by airlines and domestic airports to address those challenges.
“The experiences of people with disability include damage to wheelchairs not rectified by airlines, being dropped on the floor because the hoist that accommodates wheelchairs is not used correctly, limited access to safe ramps and discrimination against people who rely on assistance dogs.”
The Commission hopes that the information and suggestions provided by people with disability will be given careful consideration by the airlines and airports CEOs.
Last November the Commission organised two workshops that focused on those experiences. Over 60 participants attended including Paralympian Karni Liddell, journalist Zoe Simmons and representatives from disability representative organisations. People with disability reported they often encountered inaccessible facilities and services at airports and faced unhelpful practices and systems adopted by airlines.
In a joint statement in response to the letter, Qantas and Jetstar said they are, “working hard to improve the experience for customers with accessibility needs.” With Virgin stating: “We know how important it is to ensure we make airline travel inclusive and accessible for all our guests.”