Hermes’ holistic approach to accessibility

The Accessible Airport Award was presented to Eleni Kaloyirou, CEO Hermes Airports, by Elisabeth Kotthaus, Head of Unit Social Affairs, Passengers Rights & Equal Opportunities, DG Mobility & Transport, European Commission, and Nadia Hadad, Member of the Board and the Executive Committee of the European Disability Forum.

The ACI EUROPE Accessible Airport Award aims to honour the best airport in Europe in terms of its level of accessibility, as well as the range and quality of assistance services offered. This year’s winner was Pafos Airport. Eleni Kaloyirou, CEO Hermes Airports, spoke to Ross Falconer.

Hermes Airports takes a holistic approach to accessibility across both Pafos and Larnaka airports. After Larnaka won the ACI EUROPE Accessible Airport Award in 2017, Pafos took the honour this year.

The awards judges highlighted services offered at Pafos with regard to border control and e-gates, available ‘accessible taxis’, and parking pay machines with easy accessibility.

“The lower height BorderXpress kiosks for automated border control were installed about two months ago and the initial feedback is very positive, with happy faces and encouraging comments to staff,” says Eleni Kaloyirou, CEO Hermes Airports. “We anticipate that this specific service will be most welcomed by passengers with reduced mobility, in the same way that the e-gates and the lower height pay-machines have been welcomed in the recent past. Step by step we are implementing a comprehensive and effective PRM strategy for both airports of Cyprus, and today I believe it is very easy for everyone to acknowledge Hermes’ holistic and targeted approach regarding its services offered for people with disabilities and reduced mobility.”

As part of its commitment to service excellence, and in alignment with international best practice, Hermes Airports will be introducing a ‘Changing Place’ at Pafos Airport by the end of 2018. Another is already operational at Larnaka Airport. “This specific facility is designed to provide sanitary accommodation, changing, washing and toilet amenities for people with multiple and complex disabilities. Both ‘Changing Places’ will be equipped with hoists and changing beds,” Kaloyirou explains.

Pafos was praised by the judges for actively involving persons with reduced mobility, and the organisations representing them, in the processes of improving its accessibility. A management and monitoring system has also been established, which assesses the quality of services offered to PRM passengers.

“Our PRM Department, and more specifically Sophie Christofidou, Terminal Services Manager, is leading an open channel of communication with the community and the organisations for people with disabilities and reduced mobility,” says Kaloyirou.

The emphasis is on building a relationship of trust and mutual respect, which has led to a better understanding of PRM needs and a much higher level of effectiveness regarding the services offered. “Our philosophy is very simple: ‘Today we are a provider, tomorrow we might be a user’. That is why we see PRM organisations not only as a stakeholder, but mainly as a vigorous partner, seeking their advice and strong involvement in making our airports a better place for people with reduced mobility,” Kaloyirou adds.

A vision to operate best in class airports

Hermes Airports is hosting next year’s 29th ACI EUROPE General Assembly, Congress & Exhibition in Limassol from 25-27 June 2019. Attendees will experience the gateways of Larnaka and Pafos for themselves, while also getting a taste of Cyprus, the eastern-most point of Europe.

Kaloyirou explains that visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy the varied sights and attractions that Cyprus has to offer, such as archaeological sites and museums, medieval fortresses, beach resorts, age-old temples, cool mountain resorts, and much more. “Cyprus’ remarkably rich legacy in archaeological treasures and developed tourism infrastructure make the island one of the most attractive meeting places internationally.”

Indeed, the strategic development of Cyprus as a tourist destination saw Hermes Airports exceed 10 million passengers across its two airports for the first time in 2017 (7.7m at Larnaka and 2.5m at Pafos). 8% growth to almost 6 million was achieved in the first seven months of 2018, and the overall forecast for the year is 6.6% growth to 11 million.

Looking ahead, Kaloyirou says the focus is on providing an even better service to customers by operating innovative, safe and efficient airports in an environmentally-friendly and socially-responsible manner. “At the same time, our objective is to further increase traffic and connectivity, with more markets and new routes. Our vision is to operate best in class airports, offering a unique Cypriot sense of place and playing a leading role in the island’s economy.”

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