Ottawa, ON, May 9, 2024 – Jeff Morrison, President and CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC), which represents Canada’s largest air carriers (Air Canada, Air Transat, Jazz Aviation LP and WestJet), issued the following statement regarding today’s National Air Accessibility Summit:

“Members of the National Airlines Council of Canada are committed to increasing the accessibility of air travel for persons with disabilities through the ongoing identification and removal of barriers.

We were pleased to join representatives from across the aviation industry, along with the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities, at today’s National Air Accessibility Summit.

Airline employees work hard each day to facilitate accessible air travel.  We successfully carry hundreds of thousands of passengers requiring accessibility assistance each year without incident or disruption.  But we also recognize that continuous improvements are necessary to keep pace with the evolving needs of travellers.

NACC member airlines are working toward implementing critical elements of the IATA Guidance on the Transport of Mobility Aids, 1st Edition released in February 2023, a framework intended to improve the transport of mobility aids safely and efficiently and to improve the travel experience for passengers with disabilities.

In April 2023, NACC member airlines jointly committed to take additional steps to improve services for passengers with disabilities, and these efforts are well underway.  There are currently a number of industry-led pilot projects underway that will improve data transparency with airports to help address gaps facing passengers with disabilities and identify tangible solutions.

We committed to working with industry partners to standardize and share relevant data that will be used to improve accessibility services throughout the ecosystem.  Once a harmonized approach has been agreed upon, using IATA coding, NACC members will share relevant accessibility data.

We support the creation of a common medical intake process for cases requiring medical clearance and will work diligently to ensure this is implemented in a manner that respects the privacy of our customers.

Canada’s airlines also underscored that accessibility improvements require the active participation of all entities participating in the air travel ecosystem, including airports, aircraft manufacturers, mobility aid manufacturers, technology providers, travel agencies, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, the Canada Border Services Agency, suppliers, and others.  Notably, the federal government itself needs to play a role.  For instance, we recommend increased federal support of the Airport Capitalization Assistance Plan (ACAP) to pay for infrastructure work that improves accessibility, which is a top priority under the program.  

Airlines are committed to removing barriers for air passengers with disabilities and advocate that all modes of transportation be required to follow suit.”

About the National Airlines Council of Canada:

The National Airlines Council of Canada represents Canada’s largest national and international passenger air carriers:  Air Canada, Air Transat, Jazz Aviation LP and WestJet.  It promotes safe, sustainable, accessible and competitive air travel by advocating for the development of policies, regulations and legislation to foster a world-class transportation system.  Pre-pandemic our members collectively carried over 80 million passengers annually, directly employed over 60,000 people and served as a critical component of Canada’s overall air transport and tourism sector, which supported more than 630,000 jobs.

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