Wheelchair challenge goes to Seychelles’ international airport |21 November 2023
- Chief executives take on the ‘Ramp up Rise up Accessibility’ challenge
Air Seychelles and the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) have joined the ‘Ramp up Rise up Accessibility’ campaign, following the recent participation of the Retailers Association of Seychelles and the Ministry of Lands and Housing.
Yesterday was the turn of the chief executive of Air Seychelles, Sandy Benoiton and the chief executive of the SCAA, Gary Albert, to join the campaign to raise awareness on accessibility to wheelchair-bound persons.
Apart from highlighting the general lack of accessibility for those with mobility issues, the campaign is also to encourage all key players within the public and private sectors to take note of their societal responsibilities and to make improvement in this area.
The campaign is an initiative of Christine Winslow in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Family.
The challenge took place in the presence of Mrs Winlow and her family; among whom included her son Jason who is wheelchair-bound, the director of the Elderly and Disabled Persons division, Marco Gerry and staff of SCAA and Air Seychelles.
The challenge by the two chief executives to access the airport facilities and services and to board the Air Seychelles flight, started off at the drop off area to the checking counter, the security check, the immigration followed by the departure lounge. From there, the challenge continued to the Air Seychelles Lounge upstairs via the lift where the two chief executives tried to access the services and bathroom before going back via the same route to try and access the bathroom downstairs. They also had to try accessing the designated sitting area for wheelchair-bound persons and those with special needs, in the departure lounge downstairs.
The boarding and disembarking on the Air Seychelles airline took place via the ambulance lift truck before proceeding to the arrival lounge for formalities to leave the airport.
Speaking to the media, both chief executives said they appreciated the challenge which have made them aware of some of the challenges that have to be addressed to ensure that wheelchair-bound persons and other persons with special needs get to freely enjoy the airport facilities and services at their own pace, like other passengers.
“We have learned a few things and obviously we will have to do much better. We will make our utmost to ensure the dignity of those passengers are respected and that they get to enjoy our facilities and services. We are fully committed to that,” said Mr Benoiton.
“We have come to realise that access to toilets by wheelchair-bound persons is one of the main issues here and we will have to undertake certain works to address this issue. The departure lounge will undergo renovation next year and it will cater for special dedicated toilets for wheelchair passengers. This will be among other projects, aimed to improve and facilitate the journey of passengers with disabilities through the Seychelles international airport,” said Mr Albert.
For his part, Mr Gerry said he hopes things do improve at the airport to allow local and foreign wheelchair-bound persons and the elderly, to independently access and enjoy the facilities and services.
The founder of the ‘Ramp up Rise up’ campaign, Mrs Winslow, said although not everything looked bad for a wheelchair-bound person at the Seychelles international airport as compared to some other airports she has visited, there are still a lot of improvements to do and she was looking forward to the changes promised by the two chief executives.
She added that there have been many improvements at the airport, especially with regard to the operational sitting facility for persons with special needs at the departure lounge that was brought to the attention of the airport authority.
She noted that these issues are not restricted to Seychelles only but in airports all over the world.
The accompanying photos show some highlights of the challenge at the airport yesterday.
Text & photos by Patrick Joubert