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Rights of people with reduced mobility in air transport

This regulation is part of a general plan to reinforce passenger rights on all forms of transport. Persons placed at a disadvantage by reduced mobility, whether caused by disability, age or another factor, should have opportunities for air travel comparable to those of other citizens.

ACT

Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006 of the Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air.

SUMMARY

The regulation on the rights of persons with reduced mobility when using air transport prohibits operators from refusing reservation or boarding to persons because of their reduced mobility or disability *.

There are certain exceptions and derogations, however, particularly for justified safety reasons established by law. An air carrier may refuse to accept a reservation from or to embark a person with reduced mobility or request that a travelling person with reduced mobility or disability must be accompanied by another person, in order to meet applicable safety requirements duly established by law or if the size of the aircraft makes it physically impossible to embark that person.

Within five working days of refusing a reservation or embarkation or requiring a person with reduced mobility or disability to be accompanied, the air carrier must inform in writing the person concerned of its reasons for doing so.

Persons with reduced mobility or disability are entitled to receive the assistance specified in the regulation free of charge in airports (on departure, arrival and during transit) and on board aircrafts (for example, the transport of wheelchairs and the carriage of guide dogs for the blind).

The managing bodies of airports should provide this assistance and may fund the services by levying a specific charge on airlines.

European Union (EU) countries and other concerned countries (European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries) will be required to lay down penalties for infringements and to set up independent bodies to deal with complaints.

The Commission must report to the European Parliament and the Council by 1 January 2010 at the latest on the implementation and effects of the regulation.

Key terms used in the act
  • "Disabled person" or "person with reduced mobility": any person whose mobility when using transport is reduced due to any physical disability (sensory or locomotor, permanent or temporary), intellectual disability or impairment, or any other cause of disability, or age, and whose situation needs appropriate attention and the adaptation to his or her particular needs of the service made available to all passengers.

REFERENCES

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006

15.8.2006

26.7.2008

(Articles 3 and 4: 26.7.2007)

OJ L 204, 26.7.2006

RELATED ACTS

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the functioning and effects of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air [COM(2011) 166 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The report concluded that Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006 has brought advantages to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility (PRM); in particular a single framework of protection, a clear division of tasks between airports and air carriers, and the establishment of a network of National Enforcement Bodies (NEB) in all EU countries.
The Commission did, however, find some difficulties in applying the regulation which might weaken its impact. These problem areas include:

  • a sometimes insufficient quality of service provided and inadequate adaption to PRM’s individual needs;
  • insufficient information provided to passengers;
  • fragile and expensive handling mobility equipment;
  • restrictions on accepting reservations from or embarking PRMs on the grounds of safety;
  • insufficient in-flight assistance by the air carriers, in particular in moving to toilet facilities;
  • conflicting interpretations of the definition of mobility equipment that must be carried free of charge by the air carriers;
  • disparities in the implementation of the regulation between EU countries;
  • disagreements over the amount of and the method of calculating and imposing charges;
  • difficulty in interpreting certain important definitions, such as whether pregnant women, overweight people or young children are included in the definition of persons with reduced mobility;
  • transporting and supplying medical oxygen.

As the initial assessment finds that the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006 is overall positive, a legislative review is not necessary at this stage. The Commission does, however, propose a number of axes of improvement within the existing framework, including:

  • a uniform interpretation of the regulation;
  • improving how the regulatory instruments work in practice;
  • strengthening the efficacy of the penalities and their supervision by national authorities;
  • handling the issue of the transport and supply of medical oxygen.

Communication from the Commission of 7 August 2008 on the scope of the liability of air carriers and airports in the event of destroyed, damaged or lost mobility equipment of passengers with reduced mobility when travelling by air [COM(2008) 510 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
Based on the “Study on the compensation thresholds for damaged or lost equipment and devices belonging to air passengers with reduced mobility” launched by the Commission, this communication presents the current challenges faced by persons with reduced mobility when their mobility equipment is lost or damaged, as well as the solutions provided by Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006.
In terms of quantitative objectives, the aim is to reduce the number of incidents regarding mobility equipment. To this end, the regulation establishes the legal obligation for airlines and airports to design procedures for and train staff on the assistance of people with reduced mobility. As a qualitative objective, the aim is to minimise the consequences of an incident. In this regard, there is:

  • a lack of common procedures that would lead to an immediate solution, which is covered in part by the regulation;
  • disparity in the nature and limits of the liability between airlines and airports, to whom an obligation of compensation that conforms to international, EU and national law is bestowed by the regulation;
  • the problem of inadequate compensations and procedures; however, the regulation should diminish the amount of incidents and their consequences, which are currently already rather minimal;
  • a question on the definition of “baggage” and the role of mobility equipment thereof, for which the Commission aims to launch discussions within the ICAO, so that mobility equipment is either excluded from the definition or the liability limits imposed on “baggage” by international conventions are amended in view of levelling out compensations on destroyed, damaged or lost mobility equipment with the actual value of that equipment.

Following the future assessment of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006, if enough progress has not been achieved, the Commission will propose improvements to the current legislative framework regarding the rights of persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air.

Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 295/91 [Official Journal L 46 of 17.02.2004].

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council: "Protection of air passengers in the European Union" [COM(2000) 365 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Last updated: 11.07.2011

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