A DISABLED passenger died after landing at Gatwick Airport - and an investigation has been launched amid claims he failed to receive assistance getting off the plane.

The man, aged 82, who required special assistance to disembark the EasyJet flight, reportedly fell and died after making his own way into the terminal.

Members of cabin crew came to his aid and paramedics were called, but the passenger could not be saved.

It comes after a number of reports of disabled passengers failing to get the help they need at airports, many of which have been hit by delays and cancellations due to staff shortages.

However, Gatwick denied that staff shortages were a factor in the tragic incident on Wednesday, which is now under investigation.

An unnamed source told The Sun newspaper that at the time of his death, the man had been travelling with his wife, with the couple both needing assistance.

The source told The Sun: “A member of staff came to take the woman into the airport, but the man was left on the plane.

“He must not have wanted to wait for the staff member to come back so made his own way into the terminal.

“While on the escalator the passenger fell down and suffered serious injuries as a result and died.

“This is a tragic incident which should never have happened. Someone should have been helping him.

“There’s been a real issue with staffing problems and some disabled people have had to wait for hours for help.

“Normal airport staff have had to be reminded not to help disabled passengers if they’re not qualified to, even if it means passengers waiting for hours.”

Police responded to reports of a person having had a fall at the North Terminal at about 12.50pm.

“The death is not being treated as suspicious,” a police spokesman said. “His next of kin have been informed. A report will be prepared.”

Airport staff have a responsibility to help people with disabilities on and off planes.

But just days before the tragic incident, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) warned it had seen an increase in reports of “significant service failings” at airports.

The CAA said this included incidents where passengers needing assistance were taken off of planes hours after other passengers.

An EasyJet spokesman confirmed a passenger had died.

He said: “A number of our cabin crew provided medical assistance to a passenger at Gatwick Airport whilst waiting for paramedics to arrive, however the passenger sadly later passed away.

“Our thoughts are with their family and friends at this difficult time.”

A Gatwick Airport spokesman said "our thoughts remain with the family of the deceased" following the "sad and tragic incident".

He confirmed that at the time, members of the airports Wilson James team were helping to disembark three passengers with restricted mobility (PRM).

The spokesman 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 underway, and it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

A South East Coast Ambulance Service spokeswoman said: “Sadly despite the best efforts of all those who attended, the man died at the scene.”

The incident comes just weeks after quadriplegic woman Victoria Brignell was left on a plane for 90 minutes at the airport.

Gatwick Airport previously offered its sincere apologies to Ms Brignell and described the delay as “unacceptable”.

At the time a spokesman said: “The treatment received at Gatwick Airport was unacceptable and I would like to offer our sincere apologies to Victoria.

“This incident has been escalated and Gatwick and Wilson James, our assistance provider, are investigating how this happened as a matter of urgency.”

While at Heathrow, disabled journalist Frank Gardner was recently left waiting on a plane after he was told there were “no staff” to help him off.

Mr Gardner, who uses a wheelchair, said he was forced to wait “long after everyone else was off”.