Skytrax Airport Awards

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Skytrax Airport Awards

Skytrax Airport Awards

On Wednesday evening in Copenhagen, Skytrax announced the winners of their airport awards. Never heard of them? Skytrax polls travellers across the world for their thoughts across 39 different categories. These surveys are always completed after the trip so that people can think for a day or two after the event so that a considered opinion can be given. And 11.38 million people from 105 different nationalities gave just that considered opinion.

The airport of the year was Hong Kong International Airport which, if you have ever used it, would be a popular choice. But other Asian airports dominated most of the important categories once again. Incheon Airport in Seoul, South Korea, Singapore’s Changi Airport, Kuala Lumpur Airport in Malaysia and Beijing’s Capital Airport all performed well. Asian airports seem to outstrip most of their British and European rivals in the quality of service and comfort that they provide.

From the UK, Heathrow won the award for Best Airport Shopping and Stansted won for Best low-Cost Airline Airport. The Sofitel in Heathrow also won Best Airport Hotel in Europe. Elsewhere British airports were also rans. Amsterdam beat both London City and Heathrow in the Best Western Europe airport category and that was about as far as any got. In the important staff service category for Europe no British airport made it into the last three, those being Dusseldorf, (which won) Zurich and Copenhagen.

Why don’t we do better?

One reason is that our airports are aging and new airports always seem to get more popular approval. It takes years to get through objections and planning procedures to change small things let alone build new ones. Can you remember the last time the UK had a new airport? But that is no excuse for not winning some categories such as service. Some of the worst hotels and airports I have ever passed through have been redeemed by the service I’ve encountered. Is our service getting worse or others performing better? Is that newer airports than ours leave a better impression on travellers so they are more likely to vote them higher in other categories rather than older and cramped ones? Take Heathrow. It is constrained by a road network making it difficult to expand without major disruption to the surrounding communities as was shown when BAA tried to persuade us that another runway was required. Now they have to redevelop in a limited area and I’m not sure the refurbished areas will ever perform as well as the completely new terminal 5 is doing.

One problem with this type of survey is that larger aiports will have larger number of voters so small airports that handle just hundreds of thousands of travelers will never have gain enough votes. So since Skytrax has introduced some new categories maybe we should have some categories broken down by the number of passengers travelling through so smaller airports can compete.
But then, would we do any better?

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