An investigation has been launched after a disabled passenger died on Wednesday, Gatwick Airport said.
The unidentified male passenger with reduced mobility (PRM) reportedly fell on Wednesday afternoon when going up an escalator to the London airport’s north terminal after he decided to get off an EasyJet plane on his own instead of waiting for assistance, a Gatwick Airport spokesperson told the BBC.
At the time of the incident, a staff member of Wilson James, an aviation service contractor, was helping another PRM, who’s reportedly the wife or partner of the deceased passenger.
EasyJet said its cabin crew members had provided medical assistance to the passenger while waiting for paramedics before he “sadly later passed away.”
“Our thoughts are with their family and friends at this difficult time,” the airline said in a statement.
A spokesperson for the Gatwick airport said one staff member from Wilson James was deployed to three PRM on the plane, but denied claims that it was due to staff shortages, saying it’s normal practice.
“This is a sad and tragic incident and our thoughts remain with the family of the deceased,” the spokesperson said.
“A member of Wilson James staff was waiting when the aircraft arrived and was in the process of disembarking the three PRM 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.
“A formal investigation is currently under way and it would not be appropriate to comment further.”
Downing Street extended condolences in a statement on Friday,
“It’s obviously a tragic incident and our thoughts are with the family and friends of the deceased in what is an incredibly sad time,” a spokesperson said.
The incident comes days after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it had seen an increase in reports of “significant service failings” at airports, including incidents where passengers needing assistance have been taken off a plane hours after other passengers.
PA Media contributed to this report.