In order to meet the specific needs of persons with disabilities, persons with reduced mobility or the elderly (PRMs), the European Union has laid down common rules at all EU airports for the provision of dedicated assistance to ensure the free movement of said persons, including through the access to air transport without discrimination or additional charges.
The protection prescribed by the Regulation applies to ‘any persons whose mobility when using transport is reduced due to any physical disability (whether 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’.
The airline, its agent or a tour operator may require that the PRM is accompanied by another person who is capable of providing the assistance required by that person. The accompanying person is not entitled to free carriage.
Therefore, PRMs must be able to travel by air under conditions similar to those of other citizens and must not be excluded, except for justified safety reasons prescribed by law.
In this context, the relevant legislation is Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006, which requires compulsory and free assistance for all PRMs and applies to all commercial passenger flights (scheduled, charter, low-cost):
- departing from or transiting through an airport located in the EU (or Norway, Iceland or Switzerland);
- departing from an airport located in a non-EU airport to an airport located in an EU Member State (including Norway, Iceland or Switzerland), if the carrier operating the flight is based in the EU (or in Norway, Iceland or Switzerland).
The Regulation respects the rights and observes the principles recognised in particular by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. In this context, ENAC was appointed by Ministerial Decree No 107/T of 24 July 2007 as the body responsible for implementing the Regulation and has drawn up, together with the organisations representing persons with disabilities and persons with reduced mobility and industry operators, the ENAC GEN 02B Circular implementing the Regulation (Italian only).
Codes for the different types of disabilities
Standards used to define different types of disabilities and corresponding needs:
- BLND: Visually impaired or blind persons
- WCHR: Passengers who cannot walk long distances, but can go up and down steps and move around independently
- WCHS: Passengers who cannot walk long distances and cannot go up and down steps, but can move around inside the plane independently
- WCHC: Completely immobile passengers, who are not self-sufficient inside the plane and need assistance at all times
- DEAF: Passengers with hearing disabilities
- DPNA: Passengers with mental or behavioural disabilities