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Air France continues efforts to assist disabled passengers

17th June 2008 Print

Over the past few years, Air France has been making every effort to make travel for disabled and reduced mobility passengers as easy and simple as possible.

In 2001, a specific assistance service called SAPHIR* was launched, the only service of its kind in the world, which gave a new dimension to our relations with our customers and greatly contributed to alleviating stress linked to organizing air travel for these passengers. The progress made, in conjunction with associations, doctors and Air France staff has been considerable, and is constantly being improved.

“The past fourteen months have undoubtedly been the most intense in terms of development, both with regard to extending access to existing services internationally and implementing new services both on the ground and on board aircraft”, declared Patrick Roux, VP Marketing Air France.

At the beginning of the summer 2008 season, Air France is pursuing its efforts:

- Check-in online and at the self-service kiosks
By the end of June 2008, all disabled and reduced mobility passengers will be able to check in online, or ask someone else to check them in on their behalf on an Air France or KLM flight. They will be able to print their boarding card at home, at the office or at a self-service kiosk when they arrive at the airport. Wheelchair passengers will, however, have to pick up their boarding cards at the e-services counter at the airport in order to ensure the best possible assistance for them.

- Transfer chairs on board
By the end of this year, transfer chairs, making it easier for wheelchair passengers to move around long-haul aircraft, will be progressively made available on the entire Air France short and medium-haul fleet. The new model chosen for this newly-extended service, which offers a more comfortable seat, will replace the chairs currently used on long-haul flights.

Starting on 26 July 2008, in line with the new European regulations, the assistance provided to disabled and reduced mobility passengers at the airport will be the responsibility of the airport authorities of the 27 countries of the European Community.

“These new developments mean that the passenger needs only to contact Air France (or their travel agent), who must notify the airline of the passenger’s needs in terms of assistance at the latest 48 hours before departure, in line with European regulations. This timeframe is necessary for the airport authorities to prepare the necessary assistance”, explains Jean-Pierre Lefebvre, in charge of the Coordination of handling disabled and reduced mobility passengers at the Air France General Secretariat. In return, Air France must notify the airport authorities of the passenger’s specific requirements, at the latest 36 hours before the flight’s scheduled departure.

* Information and Reservations Service for Disabled and Reduced Mobility Passengers.