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Other Articles Last modified on April 28, 2018

Leading the way

Indian airports shine as Asia-Pacific airports hold on to the top spots in all the global best airport by size categories in ACI’s Airport Service Quality (ASQ) customer satisfaction awards, writes Joe Bates.

host of first time winners and new names taking the honours in the coveted categories for passengers handling over 40 million passengers per annum arguably make the 2017 results of ACI’s Airport Service Quality (ASQ) customer satisfaction survey the most exciting and unpredictable in years.

The one constant, however, was the continued dominance of Asia-Pacific’s airports, with the region’s gateways winning all the global best airport by size categories.

And 2017 proved to be a very good year for India’s airports, which picked up three of the six global best by size awards, one second place and two joint third places.

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Mumbai-Chhatrapati Shivaji and Delhi-Indira Gandhi airports arguably led the way for India, scooping joint first place in the world for airports handling over 40 million passengers a year, narrowly beating China’s Beijing Capital and Shanghai Pudong into second place and Taipei Taoyuan in third.

The Indian gateways also couldn’t be separated for the honour of being the Best Airport in the Asia-Pacific Region, although Mumbai-Chhatrapati Shivaji was the sole winner in the Best by Size and Region category in Asia-Pacific for airports handling over 40mppa.

Lucknow’s Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport finished top of the pile in the global 2-5mppa category and Hyderabad-Rajiv Gandhi International Airport triumphed in the global 5-15mppa where fellow Indian gateways Cochin, Kolkata-Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Pune finished joint third.

Equal first in the global 15-25mppa category was Bali’s Denpasar–Ngurah Rai International Airport and China’s Haikou Meilan and Sanya Phoenix airports. Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport finished second and fellow Indian airport Chennai, and Indonesia’s Surabaya-Juanda International Airport, were third.

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There was a true multi-national feel to the roll of honour’s in the global 25-40mppa category led by China’s Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport, which finished top, followed by Seoul-Gimpo in South Korea and Japan’s Tokyo-Narita in third.

Chongqing Jiangbei repeated its global success in the 25-40mppa category in the Best by Size and Region section for Asia-Pacific, as did Lucknow, Hyderabad and Denpaser in their respective categories.

Talking about Mumbai-Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport’s triple ASQ success in 2017, Dr GVK Reddy, chairman of GVK, which spearheads airport operator, MIAL, said: “We are delighted to win these awards. When we took over the operation of the airport in 2007 its ASQ score was 3.53 and in under ten years has risen to around 4.99 out of a maximum of five. This is testimony to the quality of service provided by over 30,000 odd members of the airport community to 46 million travellers in 2017. This includes everyone from Customs, Immigration and airline staff to the F&B/retail operators, housekeeping and maintenance units and our employees.

“Our mission is to constantly raise the bar and create new benchmarks day after day. So, going forward, we will continue to strive harder and innovate through technology enabled services to delight our travellers.”

While Delhi International Airport (DIAL) CEO, I Prabhakara Rao, called his gateway’s awards “profoundly gratifying”, stating that they reflected DIAL’s strong focus on operational efficiencies and resilient approach towards service delivery.

“Despite phenomenal year-on-year passenger growth, DIAL has once again consolidated its position on the word aviation map,” he enthused.

“Winning the coveted world number one award is the natural outcome of the focus, dedication, self-belief and hands-on leadership of various partners of Indira Gandhi International Airport. This is a historic moment not only for DIAL and IGIA but for the entire nation.”

Talking about Hyderabad International Airport being ranked best airport in the world handling between 5-15mppa for the second year running, GMR Group’s airports chairman, Srinivas Bommidala, noted that the gateway has now won the award four times and always ranked among the top three.

He said: “This is a recognition of the collaborative work of all stakeholders at Hyderabad Airport. I applaud the efforts made by employees of GHIAL and that of the entire airport community.

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“As we witness robust traffic growth, we look forward to a strong collaboration and support of all airport stakeholders and partners.

“We are embarking on the expansion of Hyderabad Airport, which will not just provide the necessary infrastructure boost to facilitate high air traffic and passenger growth, but also a delightful passenger experience with the right fusion of technology and a human touch.

“As custodians of the national asset, we stay committed towards nation building by providing adequate capacity for aviation growth and the adoption of the latest global technologies.”

Other regional ASQ successes included Abu Dhabi retaining its title of Best Airport in the Middle East. Amman–Queen Alia and Medina’s Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz finished second, with Dubai International Airport taking third.

Tibah Airports operated Medina, however, become another of the first time winners by topping the 5-15mppa group in the By Size and Region for the Middle East.

Sofiene Abdessalem, managing director of Tibah Airports Operation Co, remarked: “We are proud to receive the ASQ award that ranks Medina Airport’s customer experience among some of the best airports in the world.

“It’s an important acknowledgement of the commitment of the entire Tibah team and all our strategic partners, and it is one that we should be proud of and must continue to live up to.”

The company added that the award is one among many that strengthens Medina Airport’s global standing as a world-class and top ranking airport.

Also tasting the winning feeling for the first time were the Indian airports of Indore-Dev Ahilya Bai Holkar Airport and Ahmedabad–Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, which triumphed in the regional categories for best airport in Asia-Pacific handling less than 2mppa and the Most Improved Airport, respectively.

Referring to his airport’s success, acting CEO of Abu Dhabi Airports, Abdul Majeed Al Khoori, said: “We are honoured to have received such a high accolade for the second consecutive year.

“We consider the ASQ awards to be a key indicator of our performance and success as they are a transparent reflection of what our passengers think of us and our services.

“I am personally extremely proud of our team, our stakeholders, and all the entities operating at the airport, as I know the challenges they are going through day and night, yet they never fail in exceeding expectations, and delivering a world-class gateway for the capital of the UAE.

“I look forward to their continued commitment, and drive to excel, as we embark on the next phase in our transformation journey.”

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Global picture

Top spots for airports handling over 40mppa in North America and Europe also went to first time winners in the shape of Toronto Pearson and Rome Fiumicino respectively.

Other first time winners in 2017 included Newcastle (Best by Size and Region for Europe in the 2-5mppa category); Athens (Best by Size and Region for Europe in the 15-25mppa category); Casablanca (Best in Africa over 2mmpa); and George (Best by Region under 2mppa for Africa).

The Most Improved Airport by Region category produced three other first time winners in addition to Asia-Pacific’s Ahmedabad – Belo Horizonte (Latin America-Caribbean), Cleveland (North America) and Zagreb (Europe).

Indeed, this year an unprecedented sixteen airports are first time winners, challenging best-in-class airports in the delivery of top-quality customer service.

According to ACI, this “phenomenon reflects the increasingly competitive airport industry operating environment, where continuous service improvement is a key ingredient in business performance. Airports make the customer experience a high priority.”

ACI World director general, Angela Gittens, says: “Objective measurement and benchmarking are critical in driving performance in any business especially in such a competitive and dynamic one as an airport.”

“These winning airports have dedicated themselves to delivering a stellar customer experience.

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