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Thirty two airports from Asia-Pacific and the Middle East have won 2021 Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards, which celebrate and showcase the world’s best airports as voiced by travellers.

Twenty six awards were shared across eight ‘Best by Size and Region’ categories, and included Indonesia’s Pattimura (AMQ) and Sultan Thaha Syaifuddin (DJB) airports sharing the Under 2mppa award for airports in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Also in Asia-Pacific, India’s Chandigarh Airport (IXC) finished equal first with Langkawi (LGK) in Malaysia and Indonesia’s Jenderal Ahmad Yani (SRG) and Surakarta-Adi Soemarmo (SOC) airports in the 2-5mppa section.

Five airports shared the honours in the 5-15mppa category for Asia-Pacific – Cochin (COK) and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (AMD) in India and Sultan Aji Muhammad Sulaiman Sepinggan (BPN), Sultan Hasanuddin Makassar (UPG) and Yogyakarta (YIA) in Indonesia – while China’s Haikou Meilan (HAK) and Shenyang Taoxian (SHE) airports once again shared the top spot with India’s Hyderabad-Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (HYD) in the 15-25mppa category.

Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX) beat off the challenge of all others to claim the award in the 25-40mppa category in Asia-Pacific, but it is was a totally different story in the Over 40mppa section for the region where an incredible nine airports – Beijing Capital (PEK), Delhi-Indira Gandhi (DEL), Guangzhou Baiyun (CAN), Kuala Lumpur (KUL), Mumbai-Chhtrapati Shivaji Maharaj (BOM), Shanghai Hongqiao (SHA), Shanghai Pudong (PVG), Shenzhen Bao’an (SZX) and Singapore Changi (SIN) – couldn’t be separated for top spot.

In the Middle East, Oman’s Salalah Airport (SLL) was named Best Airport by Size in the Under 2mppa category and Sharjah International Airport (SHJ) denied

Jordan’s Queen Alia International Airport (AMM) a fourth successive triumph by pipping it to the post in the 5-15mppa category. 

Salalah also received a ‘Best Hygiene Measures by Region’ award for the Middle East along with Medina’s Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz International Airport (MED) in Saudi Arabia.

A total of 10 airports in Asia-Pacific won Best Hygiene Measures by Region awards, which in addition to Best by Size and Region winners PEK, PKX, IXC, DJB and HAK included the Indonesian gateways of Depati Amir (PGK), Kualanamu (KNO), Sultan Syarif Kasim II (PKU), Supadio (PNK) and Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (CGK).

“As the industry recovers, continuing to listen and adapt to travellers will be absolutely crucial to strengthening airports’ competitive advantage, non-aeronautical revenue, and ensuring the sustained recovery of the entire aviation ecosystem,” said ACI World director general, Luis Felipe de Oliveira.

ACI World and ASQ partner Amadeus will be celebrating the 2021 ASQ winners at an awards ceremony at the ASQ Forum & ACI Customer Experience Global Summit in Krakow, Poland, in September.


Although ACI has yet to release the official figures for 2021, Dubai International Airport (DXB) has confidently predicted that it has held on to its status as the world’s busiest international airport for the eighth consecutive year after handling 29.1 million passengers in the calendar year.  

Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, says 2021 was an eventful year which, despite the uncertainties of the global pandemic, saw DXB welcome a record number of new airlines and the Emirate finally host Expo 2020.

Describing DXB’s performance in 2021 as nothing short of impressive, Griffiths said: “Despite unprecedented turmoil affecting millions of people all over the world, we overcame many serious obstacles to the operation of the world’s largest international hub and provided smooth, comfortable and safe travel for millions of people travelling through DXB. 

“This incredible performance by all of our staff and stakeholders was achieved in the face of abruptly changing travel regulations and concerns about new waves of infection. Despite these serious challenges to our ongoing success, we managed to exceed our own forecasts and continue to retain our crown as the world’s busiest international airport.

“With the eagerly anticipated reopening of key markets such as Australasia and the further easing of travel regulations around the world, the outlook for 2022 is very promising and we are in an excellent position to continue to lead the world’s air travel sector on the road to recovery.”

India retained its position as the top destination country for DXB in 2021, with passenger numbers exceeding 4.2 million, followed by Pakistan with 1.8 million, Saudi Arabia with 1.5 million and the United Kingdom with 1.2 million passengers. Other destination countries of note include the US (1.1 million passengers), Egypt (1.0 million) and Turkey (945,000).

DXB’s top destination cities during 2021 were Istanbul with 916,000 passengers, Cairo (905,000), London (814,000) and New Delhi (791,000 passengers).

Current forecasts indicate that around 55.1 million passengers will pass through DXB in 2022, but Griffiths acknowledges that if current trends continue, that figure could be exceeded by a significant margin.


The upgrade of Pune International Airport in India’s Maharashtra state is gathering pace with its new multi-storey car park set to open shortly and a new terminal expected to be unveiled in second half of 2022.

The new terminal is twice the size of the current facility and, according to the airport, will be equipped with five airbridges, advanced technologies and a fresh new duty free offering and retail/F&B outlets.

The new additions follow last year’s renovation and extension of the airport’s single runway, which at 3,250 metres long is now capable of handling widebody aircraft such as the A330 and B777, opening up the possibility of non-stop flights to Europe.

This may, in time, tempt Lufthansa to re-introduce its former Frankfurt-Pune service, which was operated by a narrowbody A319 aircraft due to the short length of the runway, and involved a refuelling stop in Baku, Azerbaijan.

According to The Times of India, in January 2022, the new terminal was 65% complete, with officials quoted as expecting it to be ready and operational by August 2022.


It appears as if the global pandemic has done little to dull the ambitions of Incheon International Airport Corporation (IIAC), which has unveiled plans for a new theme park and international museum at Incheon, and is set to play a key role in the operation and development of Batam Hang Nadim Airport in Indonesia.

Arguably the most ambitious of the projects are its plans to to develop an ICT based innovative theme park called ‘Smart Racing Park’, which it believes will attract around one million visitors a year when it opens in 2025.

IIAC has signed an investment agreement with Paradise Segasammy Co Ltd and Monolith Incheon Park INC to build the theme park, which will be located on a 73,600sqm site in the International Business Complex 1 (IBC-I) that will be added during the second phase development of Paradise City.

According to IIAC, the Smart Racing Park will be a theme park that offers an advanced ICT based experience called ‘gravity racing’ as well as various other sports and game activities.

It notes that the main attraction, the gravity racing, is a sport entertainment where customers can drive at speeds of up to 40km/h in vehicles developed by Monolith INC. It adds that “what makes the experience even more special is the online game features, powered by augmented reality (AR) technology”.

IIAC’s president and CEO, Kyung-Wook Kim, said: “I expect the smart racing park will not only generate new air travel demand, necessary for overcoming the current crisis, but also provide overseas and Korean tourists with the innovative entertainment only available at Incheon Airport.

“Incheon International Airport will transform itself into the art and culture hub, creating values that exceed the functionalities of an airport.”

In line with the ambition to transform itself into a culture hub, IIAC is exploring the possibility of opening a new world famous museum at the airport by 2024, and has launched a feasibility study into how best to accommodate a satellite site for a “recognised museum brand”. 

It would become the airport’s second museum as it already hosts the impressive Museum of Korean Culture.

While outside of South Korea, IIAC has been awarded the concession to develop Batam Hang Nadim Airport in conjunction with partners, state-owned airport operator, PT Angkasa Pura 1, and engineering and construction company, PT Wijaya Karya.

In exchange for a 25-year concession to operate and develop the Indonesian airport, the consortium has agreed to invest around $500 million on upgrading its existing passenger terminal, the construction of a new one and enhancing its cargo facilities to help create a logistics based ‘aerocity’. 

The concession for the airport – which will be managed by newly established special purpose entity PT Bandara International Batam – is scheduled to begin in June 2022.


Sweet lovers will be unable to miss or resist the giant Chupa Chups lollipop currently on display in a fun new promotion at Singapore Changi Airport.

Measuring a whopping 11m x 4m and encased in a 14m x 14m Chupa Chups strawberry flavoured wrapper, the ginormous lollipop is proving a popular place for selfies. 

Fans of the popular confectionery brand can also pose with other colourful Chupa Chups displays across Terminal 3 and redeem limited edition Chupa Chups merchandise when they spend money at Changi. 

And there’s a recreational side to the promotion, too, as kids can get creative and develop their interests in storytelling, magic, arts & crafts, robotics and technology at seven unique workshops introduced at the airport as part of Changi’s ‘Sweetest treat’ campaign, which runs from March 11 to May 3, 2022.

Phau Hui Hoon, Changi Airport Group’s general manager for landside concessions, said: “We are constantly exploring new and fun ideas to bring joy and delight to our shoppers and airport lovers during the school holidays. 

“With travel recovering, we’re adding to the whole Changi experience by bringing more exciting activities to engage families and children during the school holidays and weekends. This collaboration with Chupa Chups will inject new flavour into Changi’s retail offerings and experiences for an even sweeter time together at the airport.”


The global air transport industry has adopted a long-term climate goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 with signatories to a joint declaration representing the world’s airlines, airports, air traffic management, and the makers of aircraft and engines.

In the declaration, representatives of the world’s major aviation industry associations, including ACI World, as well as the largest aircraft and engine manufacturers, committed that “global civil aviation operations will achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, supported by accelerated efficiency measures, energy transition and innovation across the aviation sector and in partnership with governments around the world.”

“We are thrilled to see the aviation sector united in reaching this goal,” said ACI World director general, Luis Felipe de Oliveira. 

“ACI member airports, who committed in June 2021 to reaching net zero by 2050 for their own emissions, will be key players in facilitating this transition so the aviation system can continue to deliver economic and social benefits to the world. We look forward to collaborating with governments and the wider aviation community to help deliver these goals.”

Net zero will be reached through a combination of climate action initiatives. This includes supporting new aircraft technologies, such as hydrogen and electric, as well as improvements in operational efficiency and infrastructure. 

The acceleration of the production and uptake of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is expected to play a major role in reducing the climate impact of aviation. Furthermore, any outstanding emissions would be captured using carbon removal measures.

The declaration was facilitated by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), a coalition of organisations and companies throughout the air transport industry that drives the sustainable development of the air transport sector. It has also produced The Waypoint 2050 report which outlines paths for the air transport sector to reach this updated climate goal.

“The road ahead will be challenging, but aviation is no stranger to challenges. This historic declaration shows the determination of the sector to work together to take this important climate action,” noted de Oliveira. 

“It is now imperative that governments support these efforts to make this vital sector sustainable. 

“This makes it all the more urgent that member states of the International Civil Aviation Organization support the adoption of a long-term climate goal at the 41st ICAO Assembly in 2022.”


Abu Dhabi Airports started 2002 by celebrating the 40th anniversary of the official opening of Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH).

During the early onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, AUH was among the first to introduce contactless gates and touchless elevators to complement its wide array of health and safety measures. 

And technology will also be front-and-centre at the airport’s new Midfield Terminal Building, which is now 97% complete. The eagerly awaited new complex will be capable of accommodating up to 45mppa.

“As consumer confidence rebounds and traffic gradually recovers, we will continue to explore new technologies, products and ways of doing business that will drive improved sustainability and create industry-leading airport experiences. As proud as we are of our past achievements, we are equally excited about our bright future,” commented Abu Dhabi Airports CEO, Shareef Al Hashmi.


Following what it described as a highly competitive tender process, daa International has been awarded a five-year management contract for King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Working in partnership with JEDCO, daa International will manage and advise on operations and non-aeronautical revenue and facilities management at KAIA.

The international subsidiary of Irish airport operator, daa, has developed credibility and a strong presence in Saudi Arabia over the past five years by managing and operating Terminal 5 at Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport (KKIA) and, more recently, been appointed airport operator of the country’s future Red Sea Airport.

According to daa International, it will ultimately have 45 people based in Jeddah who will integrate seamlessly into the JEDCO team, creating a shared knowledge transfer culture and working together to develop KAIA into one of the worlds leading hub airports.

Nicholas Cole, chief executive of daa International, said: “Jeddah Airport forms one of the cornerstones of the Saudi Arabian 2030 aviation vision and is the international gateway to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.”

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