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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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More good news for Gatwick as SunExpress to launch non-stop flights to Antalya (that’s in Turkey if you didn’t know)

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More good news for Gatwick as SunExpress is expanding its UK operations, announcing the launch of a new route between Gatwick Airport and Antalya from March 2021.

For the Turkish-German airline – a joint venture between Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines – the market has been an important part of the route network for several years with flights from London-Luton mainly catering for visiting friends and relatives.

Now the airline extends its offer for British holidaymakers. Starting on 28 March 2021, SunExpress will launch three weekly flights between London Gatwick and Antalya, offering passengers an ideal destination for the Easter holiday period. From 28 May, this route will be served daily.

On 26 March, SunExpress is also set to launch another new flight from Manchester to Antalya. The route will be served twice per week before passengers will have a choice of four weekly connections starting 30 May.

“After a year of staying at home, the people of Britain deserve a sunny holiday”, said Peter Glade, CCO of SunExpress. “Our new services to Antalya will allow the British people to arrive at their well-deserved holiday destination, in a fast and relaxed manner, and for a competitive price, experiencing our unique SunExpress service.”

Stephen King, Head of Airline Relations, Gatwick Airport said:

“We are delighted to welcome SunExpress to Gatwick from March. Antalya has been an increasingly popular destination in recent years, with an average temperature of more than 20 degrees between May and October making it a great Mediterranean getaway.

“The addition of SunExpress’ three weekly flights from Gatwick in March – increasing to daily flights from May – is excellent news for passengers looking to book an Easter or summer break and will also offer passengers across London and the South East even greater choice when planning holidays.

“Despite the turbulent time the aviation industry has suffered this year, slots at Gatwick remain in high demand, so it is positive news to be able to welcome SunExpress to the airport.” The new routes from Gatwick and Manchester are already available for bookings through tour operators, travel agencies as well as www.sunexpress.com

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