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Aviation minister helps airport launch new assistance system

16 May 2019

On her first visit to an airport since becoming aviation minister, Baroness Vere launched a special assistance system at Birmingham Airport to help those with accessibility issues.

The introduction of the new £100,000 operational management system, known as Avtech, will enable customer care agents to provide better customer service as a result of having accurate real time operational information delivered through mobile devices.

It will see the introduction of 150 GPS ‘beacons’ throughout the terminal, which capture accurate data of the whereabouts of the customer care agents and their passengers.

This data is then sent to the duty management team to provide better dispatch information, seamless staff changes and routings to improve performance.

The system allows the agent to scan boarding passes and capture all the customer information they require for their flight. This helps passengers who feel anxious in social situations or a have hidden disability. 

The technology is continually capturing live data such as timings from distances in the terminal, staff performance and operational challenges.

Aviation Minister Baroness Vere, said: “Disabled people should expect equal access to travel, and airports have an incredibly important role to play in supporting those requiring assistance.

“Airports can be complex and challenging environments, and this new system will help staff identify and support disabled people, including those with hidden disabilities, as they travel.”   

This investment forms part of a wider £1 million three-year commitment by the airport to improve the assisted travel service for customers.

The investment includes refurbishment of waiting areas for passengers requiring assistance, staff training to better support customers with hidden disabilities and aviramps replacing traditional aircraft stairs with a ramp to enhance inclusivity.

The airport is currently modernising the existing fleet of ‘ambulift’ vehicles that are used to help passengers with reduced mobility get on and off aircraft and is replacing nine existing help points with cutting edge solutions that will support a wider array of disabilities.

Jo Lloyd, business development director, Birmingham Airport said: “It was a pleasure to host the Aviation Minister’s visit today and we thank her for officially launching the latest investment to improve our assisted travel offer.

“We recognise that we have to continually learn about the requirements of passengers with reduced mobility and by working with specialist organisations and partners on site we can ensure that our financial investments will give the greatest benefit to all of our customers.”

During the visit, Baroness Vere met with the airport’s senior management team to hear about the Master Plan which will see an increase in passenger numbers by 40 per cent.

The minister also met with staff from the assisted travel provider, OCS, and visited the Air Traffic Control Tower to meet the airport’s in-house controllers.

Pictured (l-r): Ed Kibblewhite, Birmingham Airport’s accessibility manager, Lee White, OCS head of operations, Baroness Vere, Liam Lawlor, OCS customer service manager, Jenny Willets, OCS supervisor, Jo Lloyd.

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