Heathrow Airport, Terminal 3, check-in hall, Special assistance desk, December 2017
Special assistance desk in Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 3 check-in hall

As accessibility continues to be a major focus globally for the aviation sector 2020, Heathrow has appointed disability advocates Helen Dolphin MBE and Keith Richards as co-chairs of the Heathrow Access Advisory Group (HAAG).

Aiming to transform the experience of passengers with reduced mobility travelling through the UK’s busiest airport, the HAAG is the first group of its kind, tasked with promoting accessibility and inclusion.

Supporting disability campaigner Helen Dolphin MBE and inclusion regulator Keith Richards in their new posts will be accessible travel consultant Geraldine Lundy as vice-chair of the HAAG.

The members of the HAAG will oversee over £30 million worth of investment in new equipment, resources and technology by Heathrow, such as the cutting-edge Navilens technology that Heathrow is working with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to trial.

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Navilens works by using a system of bespoke markers and a powerful detection algorithm to guide visually impaired passengers through the airport, empowering them to travel independently.

The trials are set to begin in early spring.

A long-time mobility campaigner who works with numerous third sector organisations to improve accessibility, Helen Dolphin MBE will bring a wealth of experience to the role and also serves as a member of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) consumer panel, said Heathrow.

“I’m absolutely delighted to have been appointed joint Chair of the HAAG,” said Helen.

“This is a really exciting time to be working with Heathrow Airport as it embarks on another decade of investment for passengers of the airport.

“I’m passionate about ensuring disabled people have the same opportunities to fly as everyone else and ensuring Heathrow provides the best assistance service in the world.”

Having trained as a barrister and served on a number of regulatory bodies in a variety of sectors, Keith Richards specialises in self-regulation, equality and inclusion consumer rights and set up the Consumer Panel at the CAA before serving as its Chair for six years until 2017.

Keith commented: “It’s an exciting time to be part of a change programme which will challenge the airport to improve its assistance services, making air travel more inclusive and giving more people the confidence to fly.”

Keith is also currently a board member at the consumer watchdog, Transport Focus, as well as Chair of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) at the Department for Transport.

With over 20 years’ experience working in the aviation sector, enabling people with disabilities to fly as safely and comfortably as possible, Geraldine became an independent consultant in 2019, working with the airline industry to improve their customer service for those with disabilities.

Geraldine Lundy, Vice-Chair of the HAAG said: “I’m confident that the airport is fully committed to delivering world-class service for all – a topic that is very dear to my heart. I will find it extremely rewarding to be able to support Heathrow in this area.”

Alongside the new HAAG appointments, Heathrow has confirmed it has welcomed Sarah Charsley to the newly created role of Head of Assistance Service Transformation.

According to Heathrow, Sarah will be working closely with the HAAG to transform the airport’s assistance offering.

Welcoming the appointments, Liz Hegarty, Heathrow Customer Relations and Service Director, said: “We’re really looking forward to working with the new team to continue to improve and co-create the future of our assistance services – for those travelling with us today, and the passengers who will fly through an expanded Heathrow in the future.

“The new team are all very passionate about making Heathrow accessible and inclusive for all and their energy and expertise will prove invaluable for the airport and our passengers as Heathrow kickstarts its decade of delivery.”

The new appointments come following a year when accessibility was high on the agenda of the airline industry globally, with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) holding its first Global Accessibility Symposium in November 2019.

Last year also saw numerous airports across the world trial new and innovative Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) mobility solutions, with WHILL’s autonomous, self-driving wheelchair concept being tried out in Japan, Canada and the United States.

https://i2.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Heathrow-accessibility-HAAG-Helen.jpg?fit=900%2C601&ssl=1https://i2.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Heathrow-accessibility-HAAG-Helen.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Calvin BarnettInvestments & FundingNewsroomAccessibility,CAA,Geraldine Lundy,HAAG,Heathrow,Heathrow Access Advisory Group,Heathrow Airport,Helen Dolphin MBE,IATA,inclusion,Keith Richards,Mobility,mobility-as-a-service,passengers with reduced mobility,PRM,Royal National Institute of Blind People,WHILLAs accessibility continues to be a major focus globally for the aviation sector 2020, Heathrow has appointed disability advocates Helen Dolphin MBE and Keith Richards as co-chairs of the Heathrow Access Advisory Group (HAAG).Aiming to transform the experience of passengers with reduced mobility travelling through the UK’s busiest airport,...News, views & products for mobility, access and independent living professionals