The International Air Transport Association is putting together a task force to improve the transport and handling of travelers’ mobility aids, such as wheelchairs, during air travel, the organization announced.
The Mobility Aids Action Group will consist of both accessibility organizations that represent travelers with disabilities and companies that manufactures mobility aids, in addition to airlines, airports and ground service providers. It will be the first time mobility aid manufacturers have participated in an IATA task force, according to IATA director general Willie Walsh.
The World Health Organization reports more than a billion people living around the world with disabilities, and they will be a growing segment of the traveling population as some countries have aging populations, Walsh said. The aviation industry moves thousands of wheelchairs every year, but occasionally they are still damaged during their journey, he said.
“When it does, it is devastating to the passenger as these devices are more than equipment—they are extensions of their body and essential to their independence,” Walsh said in a statement. “We acknowledge that we are not where we want to be on this as an industry. This is why we want to do something about it on a global level … by bringing the key groups together to take practical action.”