Two Irish airports have become the first in the world to be recognised as age-friendly by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Shannon Airport and Ireland West Airport have worked closely with Age Friendly Ireland and local authorities to enhance services for older people, including implementing better signage, age-friendly parking, and covered walkways from aircraft and car parking to terminal.
Both airports were officially launched as age-friendly at a ceremony in Ireland West by the Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton.
Offering congratulations, Minister Naughton said, "Ireland has taken an international lead in making the airport environment age friendly and we now look forward to sharing this learning with other airports around the world. Making sure that airport facilities are Age Friendly is an effective way to enhance their accessibility and usability for everyone.
"It ensures that domestic passengers feel confident in organising a trip abroad and it makes Ireland more attractive as a destination to older travellers from other countries."
CEO of the Shannon Group, Mary Considine, said, "It is wonderful to be one of two airports on Ireland’s west coast leading the way to being age friendly by enhancing facilities for older people and becoming as inclusive as possible. Achieving Age Friendly Airport status not only benefits our older passengers, but all of our customers and staff. It facilitates the promotion of Ireland as an ‘Age Friendly’ country.
"Shannon Airport has already adopted an Age Friendly culture by striving to ensure that our customers’ experience, regardless of age or ability, is enjoyable, simple and stress free. Our Customer Charter demonstrates a commitment to putting our customers at the heart of all we do."
Shannon Airport is also home to Europe's first airport sensory room for passengers with sensory and neurodevelopment needs, and it has also recently introduced a new high-tech scanning system which removes the 100ml only rule for liquids in cabin bags.
As a result of this, time spent by passengers at security has been halved.
To become recognised as Age Friendly Airports, Shannon and Ireland West Airport consulted extensively with older customers via the Older People’s Councils hosted by local government.
This included carrying out ‘walkability audits’ of the buildings and their environments.
In the report, walkability audit teams found Shannon “a very easy international airport to navigate” with an "excellent PRM (Persons with Reduced Mobility) service being offered free of charge".
The team also commended airport staff for their friendly and helpful approach as well as facilities such as the airport’s dedicated mobility desk, sensory room, even and non-slip flooring, ample seating to rest and seating for wheelchair users.
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