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PASSENGER SERVICES Last modified on April 30, 2013

Top of the class

Asia-Pacific airports win the top five global awards in ACI’s annual customer satisfaction survey, writes Joe Bates.

A total of 18 airports scooped the top honours in ACI’s Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards for 2012, with Asia-Pacific gateways leading the way by winning all five of the global best-by-size categories.

Indeed, Asia-Pacific airports led by Singapore Changi, Incheon and Nagoya respectively, occupied the top five positions in the Over 40mppa, 25-40mppa and 5-15mppa categories and accounted for four out of the five in the 15-25mppa group, which was won by Seoul Gimpo.

Hohhot, located in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region of China, was named Best Airport in the final 2-5mppa category, where Thailand’s Chiang Mai International Airport once again claimed fourth spot.

ASQ king, Incheon, also picked up the top prize for being the Best Airport in the Asia-Pacific region, although ACI’s decision to discontinue the Best Airport Worldwide category denied it the opportunity to be named the world’s most customer friendly gateway for an eighth successive year.

ACI made the decision at its 2012 World Annual General Assembly in Calgary as it wants to focus more attention on the categories that facilitate comparison, particularly airport size and region. 

The award winning performance of the region’s airports certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed by ACI Asia-Pacific’s regional director, Patti Chau, who enthuses: “I am delighted to see that Seoul Incheon is once again the top performer in our region and I’m particularly thrilled to see that out of the entire top performing airports under the Best Airport by Size category, over 80% are from the Asia-Pacific region. 

“This is a well-deserved recognition for airports in our region who are continuously striving for and committed to delivering excellent customer service.”   

It was a case of all change in the Best Airport by Region categories for Europe (Moscow Sheremetyevo), North America (Indianapolis) and Middle East (Abu Dhabi) while status quo was maintained in Africa (Cape Town), Latin America & Caribbean (Cancun) and, as previously mentioned, Asia-Pacific (Incheon).

Sheremetyevo CEO, Mikhail Vasilenko, claims that his airport’s award is a testament to the “high professionalism and commitment of his team” to raise the bar on customer service based on the ambition of becoming the best airport in Europe in terms quality service by 2015.

Indianapolis Airport Authority’s executive director, Robert Duncan, also paid tribute to his staff for helping make Indianapolis International Airport the Best Airport in North America. 

“Being the best airport in North America wouldn’t be possible without world-class employees,” comments Duncan. 

“I am proud of their dedication and I especially thank our frontline staff who greet our guests and keep our facilities clean, safe, and operational around the clock.”

Special regional awards for airports handling less than two million passengers per annum were won by Upington (Africa), Skopje (Europe) and Victoria (North America).

While Mombasa (Africa), Sanya (Asia-Pacific), Faro (Europe), Santo Domingo (Latin America & Caribbean), Abu Dhabi (Middle East) and Winnipeg (North America) shone in the Best Improvement by Region category.

Sanjay Reddy, managing director of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) operator, MIAL, claims that his gateway’s third place award in the 25-40mppa category is a “reaffirmation of its vision to transform CSIA onto one of the world’s best airports that consistently delights customers” and be the “pride of Mumbai.”

ACI World director general, Angela Gittens, says: “This an exciting time for airports. As airports and their operators increasingly accept the positive correlation between passenger satisfaction and airport revenues, we see more and more airports striving to meet, and in some cases exceed, the levels of customer service that their passengers expect from their favoured product and service providers. 

“Airports that deliver superior customer service stand apart from the competition and superior customer service remains one of the most important differentiators in the increasingly competitive airport industry. 

“Highly structured measurement, analytical reporting and open discussion forums are all features that have built the ASQ programme’s reputation as the premier airport customer service benchmarking tool in an era where customer loyalty translates into repeat passengers, healthy traffic and an improved financial bottom line. 

“I am delighted to see long-standing favourites take home ASQ awards as it is testament to the growing and accepted wisdom in the airport community that maintaining customer service excellence is central to a winning business strategy.”

And she had some special words of praise for airports such as Hohhot (China), Skopje (Macedonia), Sanya (China) and Moscow Sheremetyevo, all of which joined the ASQ hall of fame in 2012. Their addition demonstrating their respective commitments to raising the bar on customer service. 

“I am equally excited to see other airports rank for the very first time this year, which stands to prove that it is never too late to adopt a winning customer service orientation to which the ASQ programme is fundamental,” adds Gittens.

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