The Philippines' leading carrier, Cebu Pacific (PSE: CEB), is set to roll-out Disabled Passenger Lifts (DPLs) in key airports nationwide. The DPLs which would allow Persons with Reduced Mobility (PRMs) an easier and more comfortable boarding experience on Cebu Pacific flights.
CEB is the first airline to invest in its own DPLs, in line with its thrust to improve passenger experience. The use of the DPL is free of charge for Cebu Pacific passengers with reduced mobility. Aside from PWDs, these include pregnant and elderly passengers who may have difficulty climbing stairs to board their flights.
CEB has invested over PHP100 Million for the procurement and installation of 35 brand-new DPLs. The first DPL was installed in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 in March 2017 for testing and evaluation. Since July 2017, the DPL has been used to lift PWDs, pregnant and elderly passengers on a limited number of CEB flights.
Michael Ivan Shau, Vice President for Airport Services of Cebu Pacific said that the rest of the DPL units would be installed starting 2018. Six more units would be placed at the NAIA Terminal 3, with the rest deployed to other CEB hubs across the country, namely, Clark, Kalibo, Iloilo, Cebu and Davao; as well as high-traffic airports across the country with CEB operates flight using Airbus aircraft. Target completion is by June 2018.
"We are looking at initiatives to improve the passenger experience for everyJuan. For our PWD passengers and those with reduced mobility, we recognize that the experience of being lifted manually can be uncomfortable. Investing in the DPLs will allow us to board and deplane passengers with reduced mobility safely, with minimal discomfort," said Shau.
In 2016 alone, over 43,000 passengers availed of wheelchair assistance from the check-in counter. Of this number, more than 14,000 were wheeled from the check-in counter and carried to their seats in the aircraft.
The DPL was introduced in 1998 by international aircraft service provider Airport Maintenance Services– Ground Service Equipment to give airports a safe, comfortable and dignified way to get PRMs on and off aircraft. The DPL allows PRMs, as well as their companions or service agents to board the aircraft or deplane via the aircraft door designated by the airlines. To date, there have been at least 500 DPLs used worldwide.
For PWDs and other PRMs who need wheelchair assistance, they simply need to tick the box indicating this requirement upon booking their flights.
Cebu Pacific has also recently implemented the 20% discount on base fares and 12% value-added tax (VAT) exemption for all domestic flights for PWDs and senior citizens across all its booking channels. CEB has also integrated the domestic terminal fees into CEB ticket costs—all aimed to provide guests with a more convenient and hassle-free flight experience.