Welcome to all those joining online from around the globe. We are glad to have you with us.
We are very proud to be facilitating this opportunity for airlines, regulators, airports and other industry partners to work with the accessibility community with a common goal—to ensure that the freedom to fly is accessible to all. We believe every person has the right to safe, reliable and dignified travel
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than one billion people live with some form of disability, and the growth rate of those with disabilities or with special needs is higher than the general population growth, therefore, working to make air travel more accessible and inclusive is not only the right thing to do on a human level—but also makes good business sense
We held our first Global Accessibility Symposium in November last year. That was on the heels of two important milestones:
At our last AGM, IATA’s membership committed in an AGM resolution to improve the air travel experience for people living with disabilities around some core principles
And the International Civil Aviation Organization, at its last Assembly, agreed to use these principles when developing and implementing accessibility regulations.
IATA has also responded to the unique challenges of people with disabilities traveling during the COVID-19 crisis. We worked on joint guidance with the Open Doors Organization and Reduced Mobility Rights.
The aviation sector—by its nature—safely, efficiently and seamlessly connects across borders using global standards
This is also at the heart of how we address the challenges of making travel accessible—particularly when it comes to regulation.
Different accessibility regimes in different jurisdictions helps no one. Fragmentation is confusing and frustrating for passengers. And the complexity makes compliance a real challenge for airlines.
Addressing this challenge is one of the main aims of this Symposium. And I look forward to the output of your deliberations to help guide IATA’s work in this important area.
Build back better
The commitment to make travel accessible does not waver with COVID-19. The gravest crisis in aviation’s history will mean a re-think across the travel process. We will need to build back our business better.
We want a restart for all passengers which includes travelers with disabilities. Aviation is “the business of freedom”.
And that freedom includes a commitment to safe and dignified travel being available to all passengers, including those with disabilities That means that we must all focus on giving confidence to persons with disabilities that flying is a safe and viable option for them, and ensuring that their journeys are as barrier-free as possible.
I thank you for your attention, wish you a successful Symposium, and thank you for your contributions over the next two days.