A Glasgow-based healthcare start-up is flying high after Edinburgh Airport signed a deal for its products to enhance disabled passengers’ travel experience.
The Capital’s airport has purchased Wheelair’s cooling backrest cushions for wheelchair users from Edinburgh-based mobility dealer FastAid Products, following a successful summer trial.
Working in partnership with airport assistance provider OmniServ, the cushion will be available for passengers in wheelchairs to use while in the airport.
Full details of the deal have not yet been disclosed.
Wheelair’s cushion, designed in Scotland by Corien Staels in 2015, offers back support and uses inbuilt fan technology to cool a wheelchair user’s back and core by taking away excess heat and moisture.
Feedback from the passenger trial carried out this summer showed that the product “significantly improved” the airport experience by providing extra comfort.
Wheelair said the deal marked “a great moment for progress in Scottish accessibility, accessible travel and inclusion”.
Tracey Scott, training and HR adviser at OmniServ, which will be providing the cushion service, said: “Listening to passenger’s feedback is very important to us at OmniServ and the feedback from the Wheelair trial certainly exceeded expectations.
“It is clear that this product is going to be life-changing for so many wheelchair users.”
OmniServ accommodates up to 350 disabled passengers each day at Edinburgh Airport, and sometimes as many as ten per flight.
Paralympic and world champion wheelchair rugby player Michael Kerr, one of the start-up’s brand ambassadors, described offering the Wheelair as “the natural next step” for the airport to improve its customer service for wheelchair users.
Wheelair said: “Being the first airport to purchase the Wheelair, OmniServ and Edinburgh Airport remain cutting-edge in their service offering for disabled passengers.”
Managing director Staels added: “We have embraced the opportunity to work with Fast Aid, Edinburgh Airport and OmniServ on this project.
“We want to keep the conversation on accessible travel active, as well as making sure wheelchair-using passengers have the most comfortable airport experience possible.
“We look forward to helping other airports and solution providers follow their lead.”
The company won the backing of Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones when Staels presented it on the Dragons’ Den television show, with the investors offering £75,000 in return for a 30 per cent equity stake.
Staels said stylish design was key to the product’s appeal. She said: “I believe that there is no reason why disability products shouldn’t look good as well as solve a problem.
“That’s why when designing our backrest, I have never compromised on the appearance.”
In addition to Kerr, athlete and model Samantha Bullock is also an ambassador for the brand.
Speaking in July, Bullock said: “Wheelair is really going to change the game for wheelchair users.”