This morning’s News-Mail published a letter from Bundaberg resident Stan Wills who was unhappy with the drop-off provisions for disabled people at the airport.

This afternoon I met with Stan on-site to discuss his concerns which had previously been the subject of debate by Councillors & staff when the new parking/drop-off arrangements were introduced. At the time, a number of us raised concerns over the disabled and frail having to walk some distance to the departure lounge whilst exposed to the elements. Officers subsequently provided some alternative concepts which included covered walkways however due to budget contraints these were deferred.

Stan raised the possibility of establishing a disabled drop-off zone at the front of the terminal however recent legislation introduced by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) prohibits the parking or standing of any private vehicle in the immediate proximity to a terminal or in what is described as a ‘blast exclusion zone’ due to terrorism (car bomb) concerns. Taxis are exempted as their drivers receive special instruction and clearances. Apparently all Australian airports are now removing private vehicle access to these locations.

The concerns that Stan raises are quite valid and I appreciate his feedback. The farthest distance (from the front of the current drop-off zone) to overhead cover at the terminal is about 80 metres. As a disabled or frail person obviously takes longer to alight from a vehicle, become mobile and reach the terminal during even a medium rainfall, he/she would likely be left saturated, even if they didn’t have to carry luggage. Umbrellas are all well and good but I’m sure that we can all appreciate the practical difficulties of manouvering wheelchairs, using crutches, etc while trying to hold one at the right angle. Obviously, none of us would relish the prospect of waiting in an air-conditioned departure lounge or travelling in an aircraft in wet clothing.

I’m therefore going to raise this issue with Council again and ask it to commit sufficient funds in the 2013/14 budget to provide (at a minimum) a wide awning over the drop-off zone and adjacent footpath together with a cover over the pathway to the terminal. I understand that Council staff have already listed it on their budget ‘wish list’ however this is an issue that really should receive priority attention

The photo below depicts the area in question.

Airport Drop-Off Zone & Walkway



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