By implementing Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006 concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air RIGA International Airport has become still more convenient and friendly to the people with disability or reduced mobility and is set as example to other airports of the European Union of implementation of the EU Regulation.
Krišjānis Peters, Chairman of the Board of RIGA International Airport, said: „The airport has always strived to be accessible and convenient for all its passengers. The Regulation that now is binding for all EU airports is a significant step toward making air travel easier and more pleasant for the passengers with reduced mobility. It is vital to make arrival at another European airport as familiar and safe as home. And we have gone all the way to make staying at RIGA International Airport convenient, nice, simple and with the help available if needed. Choosing RIGA International Airport to be an example to other EU airports is a demonstration of high esteem of the productive cooperation, care, understanding and genuine interest of our staff, institutions and public organizations to make our airport better.”
RIGA International Airport already before implementation of the EC Regulation had done a great work to make its services and infrastructure convenient and friendly for the people with reduced mobility. The need to develop and implement the new EC Regulation was dictated by the growing numbers of disabled passengers and passengers with reduced mobility travelling by air. To date in Europe there are more than 5 million people with reduced mobility who need assistance at the airport and on board the aircraft. According to forecasts this number in the nearest 15 years will double. It is essential that throughout the EU transport system, including airports and airlines, the standards are uniform thus making travel easier and opening new opportunities to reach any destination in the EU.
The statistics of RIGA International Airport show that year by year the number of passengers with reduced mobility grows. According to the forecasts this trend will continue in the coming years. RIGA International Airport on average handles 12 passengers with reduced mobility per day and in 2009 their total number exceeded 4500 persons.
In the course of implementation of EC Regulation RIGA International Airport introduced a number of improvements and new technologies in passenger service favourably appraised by the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC), who nominated RIGA Airport as the first airport in the European Union providing quality services to passengers with reduced mobility. In order to meet the requirements of the Regulation, RIGA International Airport has purchased a special vehicle Ambulift for helping passengers with reduced mobility in and out of any type of aircraft. The airport personnel who provide daily assistance to passengers with reduced mobility and the instructors of the airport training centre have attended training courses. The airport infrastructure, short- and long-term car parks have been upgraded and new call points installed enabling passengers to activate the assistance staff. New ramps have been constructed at the airport buildings, toilet facilities reconstructed according to the EU standards, the terminal signage system has been improved and convenient and practical information materials.
The press conference dedicated to this event was attended by Krišjānis Peters, Chairman of the Board, Ann Frye, Chair of ECAC Sub-Group on PRM, Gunta Anča, Chairman of the Board of the non-governmental organisation Sustento and Māris Gorodcovs, Director of the RL Civil Aviation Agency