There are big plans in the mix for Western Sydney Airport, who’re partnering with New South Wales Wheelchair Rugby League in a bid to create an accessible airport that will provide all travellers with an enjoyable and seamless travel experience. The project will see players act as accessibility consultants during the early development of the airport where they will work alongside the architectural firm, who have yet to be chosen, ensuring accessibility is a priority of the design.
Approximately 18.3% of the Australian population has one or more disability which is one of the main reasons why the chief executive officer, Graham Millett of Western Sydney Airport believes it is what the country needs.
He says, “We want to go over and above out legislative requirements when it comes to accessibility, the NSW Wheelchair Rugby League will be a key reference group for the airport’s design team during these early stages of planning to ensure we optimise accessibility for travellers of all abilities.”
New South Wales Airport sponsored the clubs’ recent 2019 competition and working alongside the team would be of a huge benefit for the company, enabling them to gain unique insights and invaluable advice on accessible considerations on the airports’ design. The airport will be located in the Badgerys Creek suburb of Sydney and is looking to be servicing 10 million annual passengers by the first stage of development in 2026. By the 2060s, the airport is expecting to accommodate up to 82 million travellers.
“This is a very astute move by Western Sydney Airport.” said Chris Wood, founder of Flying Disabled, an air travel accessibility campaign group. “Future proofing inclusive design accessibility in an airport is crucial to avoid costly retrofits,” he continued. “Additionally, airport staff who assist passengers with reduced mobility will find inclusive design makes their tasks far more effective.”
The more obvious special features have already been planned for during discussions such as ramps and lifts, but Wood urges developers to create multiple solutions for various circumstances, namely high traffic periods or service breakdowns. Accessibility must also be taken into consideration as far as car parks, taxi ranks and other outdoor spaces to ensure complete continuity for the passenger.
The airports’ decision to partner with this specific group wasn’t taken lightly, the team regularly travel and have a vast experience of the accessibility and mobility of airports around the world. Bringing their insights into the good and the bad from these airports should keep the designers on the right track.
Looking to the future
87 million passengers are forecasted to travel to the Sydney region by 2035 and Western Sydney Airport is expected to shoulder a significant portion upon its completion. Accessibility in Australia is definitely on the rise, with more restaurants and places of leisure becoming mobility inclusive and the development of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles increasing year on year – an accessible airport is definitely another step in the right direction for Australia.
If you’re interested in finding out more about Wheelchair Rugby, you can head over to their website: www.nrlwheelchair.com.au/