2016 Airport Service Quality awards

By | Category: Travel news
Incheon airport, South Korea

Incheon airport, South Korea a perennial winner for customer service and satisfaction. It is this year’s winner in the airport category for carrying more than 40 million passengers

The trade body for airports around the world – Airports Council International (ACI)  – has announced the winners of its 2016 Airport Service Quality Awards.

Unlike some awards there is no named award for customer service or satisfaction but it is virtually calculated by considering the ratings given by airline passengers to a number of other questions.

Passengers who complete a survey – and there were about 600,000 last year  – are asked to assess 34 key performance indicators, including airport access, check-in, security screening, restrooms, stores and restaurants. Each airport uses the exact same survey, creating an industry database that enables operators to compare themselves against other airports around the world.

The categories have been designated to recognise the achievements of airports of different sizes and in different regions as it would, for example, be invidious to group a primarily large business airport like Heathrow with a predominantly small tourist airport like Southend.

Angela Gittens, the director general of ACI  said, “These airports have dedicated themselves to delivering a stellar customer experience. Promoting a culture of continuous service improvement has become a matter of gaining competitive advantage and optimizing non-aeronautical revenue performance.”

Dublin Airport’s terminal 2. the airport was the only one in the UK and Ireland to win any placing

Suffice it to say that British, and indeed European airports did pretty badly – or at least they did compared to Asian airports. Only Dublin managed some glory by gaining an equal third place in the Best Airport in Europe category. The winner and runner up both were Russian airports. Sochi was first and Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport came second. With Dublin in third place was Malta, Porto and Zurich airports.

It must be said that not all airports sign up for this airport service quality (ASQ) survey so some airports that provide outstanding customer service across those 34 categories would not appear in the list. Secondly, in the European category, the airport has to have over 2 million passengers per annum which would rule out smaller airports in the UK and Ireland like Shannon, Exeter, Cardiff and Inverness.

Within the European category, Heathrow did gain the top prize in the over 40 million passengers a year category but that did not place it amongst the top three in the best in the world groups. And that surely is how our airports should compare themselves. With the best in the world.

In the categories broken down by airport size; 2-5 million, 5-15 million, 15-25, 25-40 and over 40 million  passengers a year, the only European airport that appear in any of the top three places was Sochi and it tied for third place with Guayaquil in South America and Jaipur in India.

The question is why don’t European airports don’t do better? Is it because our airports are older and therefore require more effort to maintain? Is it because staff training doesn’t major as strongly on the customer compared to Asian airports? It could be a host of reasons. Whatever the answer is, passengers seem to feel underwhelmed with European airports.

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