Gatwick Airport has received the National Autistic Society’s Autism Friendly Award in recognition of its efforts to create a  friendly environment for autistic passengers.

The award makes it the first UK autism-friendly airport in the country.

Gatwick Airport chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “We recognise airports can sometimes be a stressful environment for autistic passengers, but that simple steps can go a long way in helping to break down barriers and make it easier for autistic passengers and their families or caregivers to travel through Gatwick. 

"This award is recognition of the fantastic efforts of many of our staff, volunteers and valued partners."

“This award is recognition of the fantastic efforts of many of our staff, volunteers and valued partners like the National Autistic Society, and signifies our ongoing commitment to ensuring Gatwick is an accessible and welcoming environment for the 42 million passengers who use the airport every year.”

Implemented along with OCS Group, the autism friendly initiatives at Gatwick airport include the provision of clear and accessible information for autistic passengers about the airport, and provide assistance to help plan and prepare their journey.

Gatwick has trained its staff to assist autistic passengers, as well as introduced a hidden disability lanyard that is set to be implemented at other UK airports.

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The airport could also potentially hire new 'autism champions' to roll-out further front line staff training at the airport.

Gatwick has appointed Autism Support Crawley chair Maria Cook as the airport’s autism ambassador.

More than one in 100 people in the UK are currently estimated to have autistic issues.