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Gatwick’s Accessibility Day helps to make the airport ‘a less scary place’ for those with hidden disabilities

Currently around 19% of the UK population have a disability and 11% a hidden disability. As much as 7% of the UK population is thought to avoid air travel because of a disability.

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Photo: Tony Pick Photography

Airports can be challenging, confusing environments and more than 40 local families with a family member who has a hidden disability – and their carers – attended Gatwick on Sunday (8 April) for an event designed to make airports feel like ‘a less scary place’.

Held in the North Terminal, Gatwick’s Accessibility Day helped to familiarise people with a hidden disability – and their families and carers – with the sights and sounds of an airport so they have a practical overview of airport processes before they travel.

To simulate the airport environment Sunday’s event included:

• Staff from airlines – Virgin Atlantic and TUI – taking families through the check in process
• Gatwick’s Special Assistance Services team, Wilson James, providing buggy rides
• Gatwick staff taking families through the security process in a fun and relaxed way
• Border Force officials introducing some of their search dogs
• Police officers and a fire engine were also on hand to replicate the entire airport experience

Currently around 19% of the UK population have a disability and 11% a hidden disability. As much as 7% of the UK population is thought to avoid air travel because of a disability.

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Gatwick is aiming to be the most accessible airport in the UK and is currently engaging with a broad range of disability groups to help ensure that the airport makes its services accessible for everyone.

Nikki Barton, Head of Terminals, Gatwick Airport, said:

“Our Accessibility Days have proved very popular and I would like to thank all those who gave up their Sunday to make it happen. Feedback suggests that families find these events a very useful and practical way of making the airport feel like a less scary place before they travel.

“Events like this are also a great way of hearing about what our passengers find useful or would like to see at Gatwick to make their journey more pleasant and less stressful. We know that we will not get it right all of the time, but we are determined to keep talking to disability groups and passengers to encourage more feedback and develop new learning mechanisms to help us constantly improve our accessibility services, facilities and training.”

Maria Cook, Gatwick’s Autism Ambassador, said:

“I would like to thank everyone from organisations across the airport who volunteered their free time to be part of our latest Accessibility Day.

“I am extremely proud to be involved in events like these and to have played a part helping Gatwick to become the first UK airport to be accredited as Autism Friendly and retain its accreditation for the second year running. An important part of the accreditation processes was introducing a Hidden Disability Lanyard and it’s extremely encouraging to hear that airports from across the world are contacting Gatwick for information to help them introduce the lanyard schemes of their own.”

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Gatwick

Gatwick launches UK’s first electric car sharing service

The 100% electric vehicles produce zero emissions which supports Gatwick’s carbon neutral status.

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Ten 'Blue City' electric cars on Gatwick's airfield.

In a UK airport first, passengers, staff and local residents can now reserve and pick up a 100% electric car at Gatwick – and return it to any of 300 compatible pick up/ drop off points across London or back at Gatwick – the airport announced yesterday.

The service – similar to schemes popular in other parts of the world – is being rolled out in partnership with Bluecity, the only company to operate a pan-London electric vehicle car sharing service with 100 cars currently available in total.

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Discussions are also ongoing with local authorities and business groups about expanding the network further in London and in areas surrounding the airport.

Operating in a similar way to existing cycle schemes across the capital, ten cars and charging points are currently available on Gatwick’s South Terminal forecourt. This is Bluecity’s first airport hub and discussions are in progress to increase capacity.

The new point to point service gives people using the airport a convenient, zero emissions travel option for getting directly on and off the airport and is purposely designed to be easy to locate and use, with customers able to reserve a car in seconds via the Bluecity app.

Local residents are also encouraged to use the service and Gatwick staff have also been offered the opportunity to trial the service for free.

A standard journey in a Bluecity car from central London is also an affordable travel option to the airport. The four-seater’s drive from Central London to the very front of the airport will cost around £15 in moderate traffic.

The service is also flexible and works both ways, so that those travelling to Gatwick from the capital can pick up a car at any of the London-based charging points and drop it off at the airport.

Car sharing is also growing in popularity in the UK and this new partnership represents another first in Gatwick’s journey to be the UK’s most sustainable airport. Gatwick is accredited as a carbon neutral airport, uses 100% renewable electricity and 44% of passengers currently get to the airport by public transport.

The 24,000 staff on Gatwick’s airport campus and local residents are also being encouraged to use the new electric car sharing service.

Gatwick Airport’s Chief Commercial Officer Guy Stephenson said:

“Gatwick leads the way on airport innovation and this UK airport first not only offers a new, flexible option for getting on and off the airport, it also improves air quality.

“When it comes to electric car sharing schemes, few companies have experienced the success of Bluecity and its parent company. Given the popular demand for similar electric car sharing services in other parts of the world, this new service has the potential to take off in the UK and we are proud to be at the forefront of this transport revolution.”

Bluecity’s Managing Director Christophe Arnaud said:

“We are particularly proud of this milestone agreement with Gatwick Airport and look forward to our collaboration for years to come. We believe this new service is a fantastic solution for travellers. Our cars are powered exclusively with 100% renewable energy making the service the greenest and most affordable transport option to and from Central London.”

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