London Gatwick Airport has announced the opening of a new £2 million (€2.3m) airline lounge style area in its North Terminal for passengers who require special assistance. It is one of the largest special assistance areas in any European airport.
The area has been designed with a premium lounge feel, with bespoke chairs and soft furnishing to provide a quiet, calm, environment for passengers to relax in before their flight. Situated next to the North Terminal’s Departure Lounge, the new area is easy to access, once passengers have passed through the special assistance security lanes, and has capacity to seat up to 90 people – more than double the size of the existing area.
Andy Pule, Head of Terminal Operations, Gatwick Airport, comments: “We are delighted to open this new area for passengers who require special assistance and have taken great care to ensure the facility offers a premium style feel, while also meeting the needs of our passengers.
“Gatwick is committed to providing passengers who have a disability or reduced mobility of any kind with the support and services required to ensure their time at the airport is as comfortable as possible and this remains a key area of focus for the airport.”
The 56sqm site also has a dedicated reception area with hearing induction loops, water fountain and toilet facilities, as well as a number of charging points for passenger transport vehicles and personal electronic devices. The LED energy-efficient lighting can also be remotely controlled to operate at different levels of brightness across the area, dependent on the preference or needs of the passengers.
According to Gatwick Airport, currently around 19% of the UK population have a disability and 11% a hidden disability. As much as 7% of the UK population is thought to avoid air travel because of a disability.
Gatwick is currently engaging with a broad range of disability groups to help ensure that the airport makes its services accessible for everyone and continues on its journey to becoming the most accessible airport in the UK.
Mark Hicks, Director, Airport Operations for Wilson James Ltd, Gatwick Airport’s passenger services provider, adds: “The new special assistance area in the North Terminal is a demonstration of the commitment across the Gatwick community to providing a positive service experience for passengers requiring assistance while travelling.
“The newly-opened space will provide passengers with a calmer, comfortable seating environment whilst in our care during their journey through Gatwick.”