In the past year, the flow of passengers with disability and reduced mobility has steadily increased across Lithuanian airports. Over the year, the number of passengers with reduced mobility in Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga airports grew by about 36 percent. The change is driven by the development of infrastructure adapted to people with disabilities and the services provided by airports including escorting passengers from the moment of arrival at the airport to their seat on the aircraft.
“Increasing numbers of passengers with disabilities and reduced mobility show that we are moving in the right direction. We strive to give everyone an opportunity to travel, so Lithuanian Airports purchased more equipment designed to assist people with disabilities, improve the quality of services we provide in this area and the qualification of our personnel.
All three Lithuanian airports offer passengers with disabilities a greeting and escort service, staff take care of the required arrival and departure procedures, escort passengers to their seat on the aircraft or to their arranged transport at the airport exit,” explains the Head of Passenger Experience Management Division at Lithuanian Airports Rasa Petraitienė.
Last year, the number of passengers with disability grew by 30 percent at Vilnius Airport, 55 percent at Kaunas Airport and 62 percent at Palanga Airport.
According to Rasa Petraitienė, escort services for people with disabilities and reduced mobility are offered free of charge. In addition, they are given priority and do not need to queue when going through flight registration, aviation security and passport control procedures. In Vilnius and Kaunas airports, a special vehicle Ambulift is used to carry passengers with disabilities and reduced mobility to the aircraft. In the nearest future, facilities for passengers with disabilities and reduced mobility in Palanga Airport will also be updated.
According to the Passenger Experience Management Expert, disabled passengers requiring assistance can pre-order these services. At least 48 hours before the flight, they should inform the airline they are flying with or tour operator they purchased the tickets from.
Even if special assistance services are not booked in advance, they will still be provided. Under these circumstances, passengers might need to wait a little longer before specifically trained staff can assist them.
“Providing only technical equipment or special vehicles is not enough. Our society still lacks skills in dealing with people with disabilities. However, we are changing this situation by providing training for both new and old airport employees. We believe that the ability to behave and communicate appropriately with all airport passengers is a must for every member of our team,” says Rasa Petraitienė.
According to her, seeking to meet the needs of people with disabilities and reduced mobility in the best ways, Lithuanian Airports are cooperating with the organisations for the disabled which offer advice for the most appropriate infrastructure changes and other improvement measures. The difference is already visible as numbers of passengers with reduced mobility and special needs are growing while the process of travelling is becoming easier.
About Lithuanian Airports
The Lithuanian airport network includes three airports in Vilnius, Kaunas, and Palanga. During 2017, they serviced 5.2 million passengers and 55 thousand flights. During the winter season, 15 airlines organize direct flights in 65 regular directions to 56 cities in 26 countries. Based on data of the Airports Council International (ACI Europe), Lithuanian Airports contribute to the Lithuania’s GDP by 2.5 percent.