An investigation into the death of an elderly traveler who died after falling down an escalator after exiting an airplane without the use of special assistance services, despite having requested a wheelchair, has been launched by London Gatwick Airport.
According to initial reports, the 82-year-old victim chose to walk alone since assistance services did not arrive, but a spokeswoman for the troubled airport claims that a helper was present and helping two other passengers when the man-made his decision to travel alone.
After the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) accused British airports of “unacceptable” and “significant service failures,” they were warned to improve the service they offer to disabled and vulnerable customers.
In a recent incident, a quadriplegic passenger on a British Airways flight was abandoned on the plane for an hour and a half at Gatwick Airport when special assistance personnel did not arrive.
As a result of an internal evaluation, Gatwick Airport announced on Friday that it was operating with a “serious lack of employee resources” and that these staff shortages would probably continue throughout the busy summer vacation period.
A spokeswoman, however, rejected any connection between staffing issues and the unfortunate death of a passenger at the airport on Wednesday. Wilson James, a third-party business, is hired to provide special support services.
“This is a sad and tragic incident and our thoughts remain with the family of the deceased,” the airport said.
“A member of Wilson James staff was waiting when the aircraft arrived and was in the process of disembarking the three PRM (persons with reduced mobility) passengers when the incident occurred.”
“Staff shortages were not a factor in this incident as has been claimed. It is normal for one staff member to disembark three passengers who require assistance by taking them one at a time the short distance to the waiting buggy.”
EasyJet cabin employees were the first responders to the accident, which happened on Wednesday at 12:50 p.m. They gave the victim emergency first aid. Emergency personnel rushed to the scene of the accident, but paramedics pronounced the individual dead there.
EasyJet said: “A number of our cabin crew provided medical assistance to a passenger at Gatwick Airport whilst waiting for paramedics to arrive. However, the passenger sadly later passed away.”