No airport has been ranked ‘poor’ in the annual airport accessibility report from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for the first time since its launch.

Manchester was the only airport found to be ‘needing improvement’, though it performed better than in the last two years when it was ranked ‘poor’.

All of the other 30 airports on the list, including Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Southend and London City, were rated ‘good’ or ‘very good’.

The report launched in 2016.

Belfast City, Glasgow, Exeter and Southampton were among the 14 airports in the top category this year.

Birmingham, Gatwick and Stansted were all rated as ‘needing improvement’ in the 2018 report, but have climbed to ‘good’.

According to the CAA there were a record 3.7 million requests for assistance at UK airports in the latest year, a rise of over 80 per cent since 2010.

It rates airports on their ability to provide “high quality support” on the day of travel as well as keeping in regular contact and consultation with passengers.

Research cited by the CAA shows that nearly a quarter of disabled and less mobile passengers now request assistance because the airport environment is becoming more difficult to navigate.

Both Heathrow and Gatwick have recently partnered with US-based app company Aira to provide free 24-hour assistance for visually impaired passengers.

Paul Smith, the CAA’s consumers and markets director, commented:

“These results show significant improvements to the experience many disabled passengers faced before our reporting began. We hope this will help passengers to feel confident and empowered to travel from UK airports.

“While it is good to see the general improvements, airports will need to continue to work hard to improve, so that they are able to meet the more demanding performance standards that we have now introduced. Where we see examples of bad practice, we will not hesitate to hold airports to account and take the necessary action.”

Manchester Airport told Business Traveller:

“Manchester Airport is committed to providing excellent service and inclusive travel for all customers, especially those who require special assistance.

“The CAA has recognised the progress delivered at Manchester over the past year, which is reflected in an improved performance rating for the 12 months to the end of March.

“We acknowledge that there is further to go and we are investing significant additional resources to improve services for passengers in this area, regardless of their accessibility or other requirements, so that they are confident about travelling through Manchester Airport.

“We have also appointed a new special assistance provider, ABM Aviation, and are working hard with them to provide the best possible service, especially ahead of the busy summer season.

“Following the transition to the new service provider over the last few months, we are now seeing improved service for passengers, with solid progress towards meeting the industry-wide standards set by the CAA.

“We will continue to work closely with our newly-established Disability Engagement Forum to ensure we are doing all we can to respond to the needs of all our customers.

“Successful examples of industry-leading measures that have been introduced for passengers at Manchester Airport include the introduction of the Sunflower Room for customers with hidden disabilities.”

Full airport accessibility rankings:

Very good

Aberdeen, Belfast City, City of Derry, Cornwall Newquay, Doncaster Sheffield, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Glasgow Prestwick, Humberside, Kirkwall, Norwich, Southampton, Sumburgh


Belfast International, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bristol, Cardiff, East Midlands, Inverness, Leeds Bradford, Liverpool, London City, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton, London Southend, London Stansted, Newcastle.

Needs improvement