Brings together airlines, governments, airports, stakeholders, specialized advocacy groups and organisation
Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO of IATA and Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline
Private Sector to try to get out ahead of government
“The aviation industry needs to work together to create a more disability-inclusive air transport system, and in a proactive effort to advance an open dialogue between airlines, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is holding the inaugural Global Accessibility Symposium in Dubai from 5-6 November 2019, to be hosted by Emirates Airline.
The symposium furthers the commitment of the resolution on passengers with disabilities which was made at the IATA Annual General Meeting in Seoul in June 2019. The Seoul resolution aims to improve the air travel experience for the estimated one billion people living with disabilities worldwide by encouraging governments, airlines, airports and stakeholders across the aviation industry to work together to ensure access to a safe, reliable and dignified travel experience.
Such an initiative required collaboration between all stakeholders, so the symposium is part of an industry strategy to engage with policy-makers and operators, drawing on the knowledge of specialised advocacy groups and organisations, and working to better understand how technology can play a role in furthering accessibility. The event also aims to tap into the experiences of travellers with disabilities to understand their needs and how the aviation industry can best assist them.
The invitation-only event will include keynotes, panel discussions and ‘fireside chats’ that will tackle a wide variety of accessibility topics.
Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO of IATA said, “The unanimous resolution by our airline members in June was a clear indication that the industry is committed to improving the air travel experience for passengers with disabilities. Air transport provides unparalleled opportunities and all travellers, no matter what their disability, deserve access to this freedom.
“Industry standards have made air transport accessible to passengers with disabilities for decades. But we recognise that more needs to be done to ensure the seamless journey that we owe our customers,” he added. “The Global Accessibility Symposium marks a renewed and stronger dialogue between industry, advocacy groups, regulators and the travellers themselves. Together we will learn from one another and look to improve.”
Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline added, “We continue to listen to feedback from our customers, employees and advocates, and we are on our own journey in taking a joined-up approach across all of our touchpoints to develop improved services and solutions and provide the consistency that travellers with disabilities expect.
“As an industry, we need to do more through championing a multifaceted approach to accessibility, and working with our industry partners to make bigger strides in responding to the diversity of disabilities, the multiplicity of access needs, and unique travel circumstances of an aging travel population. This is just the beginning of the journey. The end game is to remove barriers, build policy frameworks, and implement concrete actions to advance universal accessibility,” said Clark. “It is apt for the first IATA symposium on this important issue to be held in Dubai, as it’s the city’s aim to become one of the world’s most accessible cities for People of Determination and Emirates is proud to play a role to help advance this dialogue.”
Clark was referring to Dubai’s mission to become one of the world’s most accessible cities for people with disabilities, ahead of it hosting Expo Dubai 2020. Dubai has been implementing plans across the city to ensure that buildings, pavements, roads, all modes of public transport as well as public areas are barrier-free for people with different types of disabilities.
There is a similar event held in Los Angeles, CA and the FAA has initiated an effort to assess technologies.
Unmentioned in the IATA/Emirates announcement that on the same dates and in the same city, there will be an Access Disabilities Expo.
Hopefully, all of these private sector initiatives and the technologies will provide real accessibility to all of those who face the present and future barrier array to limit their ability to travel. History would suggest that the “answers” imposed by government are likely to be less practical, more expensive and not as really effective.
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