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Air Travel: Disabled People

Volume 649: debated on Thursday 22 November 2018

The Government recognise and are addressing the needs of disabled passengers who choose to travel by air. This forms an important part of the new aviation strategy, which we are developing, and the inclusive transport strategy, which I published in July. The Government are considering what more can be done to ensure that disabled passengers have equal access to air travel and the confidence to travel independently. We will consult on options in a Green Paper, due to be published by the end of the year.

I welcome the Government’s work. Tomorrow, my private Member’s Bill is due for its Second Reading. It sets out steps to improve the experience for disabled passengers, from car parking to getting on and off planes and, crucially, reducing damage to wheelchairs. Do I have the Government’s support for my Bill and my efforts overall to ensure that air travel is more accessible for everyone?

My hon. Friend’s Bill raises vital issues. I commend her for all her campaigning work and thank her for the opportunity to meet her and her constituents to discuss the matter. It is crucial that disabled air passengers are able to travel in comfort and with dignity, and independently if they wish. That is why we will continue to work with the Civil Aviation Authority to secure improvements throughout the industry.

There have been many reports recently of disabled people suffering poor service when travelling by plane, yet we still await publication of the aviation strategy, which might offer some reassurance to disabled air passengers. Why has the strategy not been published? When will it be published?

The aviation strategy is due to be published, but the hon. Gentleman will have had sight of the inclusive transport strategy, which covers many elements of work to be done by the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure that accessibility, dignity and independent travel are delivered for passengers with disability as they are for passengers without disability.

Disabled access is equally important in our rail stations across the United Kingdom, which is why the Access for All scheme that my hon. Friend has commissioned is fantastic. I know that Montrose station in my constituency has already benefited. When will the next round of funding be released for the bids sent in?

Thank you, Mr Speaker. That is very kind of you. The Access for All fund has £300 million, and we had more than 300 applications. Decisions on the stations that will be able to receive that extra funding will be made early next year.