St. George’s University (SGU) has donated five (5) commercially viable wheelchairs to Aviation Services of Grenada Ltd. (ASG), in support of its efforts to better serve disabled persons utilising the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA).
In handing over the wheelchairs to ASG General Manager Leslie Scott during a brief ceremony at the departure lounge of MBIA last week Friday, Associate Dean of Enrollment Planning at SGU, Collin Dowe, noted that “it is one thing to have services that are available and another to have it accessible.”
He said that when SGU as an institution “think of wheelchairs and those who are senior citizens (and) differently able, it’s important for us to create activities and avenues that they can live a fuller life and access institutions (and) facilities that are really and truly available to everyone”.
“…When we were approached as an institution by ASG to partner on this project it was really a no-brainer because we recognise that Grenadians who are traveling and visitors to Grenada are in need of this service and hence it was important to us to say yes. It was important to us to support the airport and make the experience of our visitors and our citizens at the MBIA a better one and it is with a great deal of pride that we are part of this hand over ceremony,” Dowe added.
According to Operational & Environmental Health and Safety Manager with the Grenada Airports Authority, Kim Manderson-Mc Quilkin, this initiative is in keeping with the new United States of America Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations, which places special emphasis on the care given to wheelchair passengers.
“We have quite a number of passengers with disabilities traveling and the difficulty (in) transporting them throughout the airport, especially when disembarking so we are hoping that going forward with this donation from SGU we will be able to accommodate them…and as it relates to the DOT standards, we are supposed to ensure, as an air terminal, that we provide the facilitation for wheel chair passengers. So, this would now enable us to accommodate (more) persons with disabilities,” she said.
In pointing to the large proportion of wheelchair passengers passing through the airport daily, Marketing and Properties Manager at MBIA, Lenworth Gordon, who is responsible for customer service, said, the additional chairs would now “enhance the overall level of customer service there”.
“Some flights have up to 20 wheelchair passengers…so, customer service and facilitation is what we are trying to improve,” he stated, noting that “the airport is the facilitator of the airlines, customs, immigration, taxi men, ASG and we have to make sure that we provide the facilities for a smooth flow of operations, and that’s what we are enhancing today.”
According to Manager of Operation at ASG, Ian Marshall, the company took the initiative to procure the chairs amid growing requests for wheelchairs as the challenge grew “especially on days when you have multiple flights.”
ASG is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Grenada Airports Authority (GAA) established in 1990, to provide professional ground handling services to all commercial, cargo and specialised private aircraft, operating through the island’s lone airport.
Marshall said, the SGU donation brings the total wheel chair fleet at MBIA to around thirty (30).