ACI’s Airport Service Quality (ASQ) customer satisfaction benchmarking programme is 10 years old this year and it marked the occasion with a record number of awards.
Indeed, it was a case of smiles all round, the occasional fist pump and lots of people striking poses as dozens of airports received their ASQ awards at a glittering ceremony held during the Gala Dinner at the recent ACI Asia-Pacific Regional Conference & Exhibition in Australia.
And it was fitting that the awards ceremony was held in the region as ACI Asia-Pacific airports completed a clean sweep in all of the global sections in the annual survey that involves over 550,000 passenger surveys at more than 300 airports in 80 countries across the planet.
In total, a record-breaking 62 airports won awards in the 2015 ASQ survey due to the introduction of new categories and the results in others being too tight to call.
In the global Best by Size categories, customer service king, Incheon International Airport, finished top in the Over 40mppa section, although this time it had to share the honour with Singapore Changi as the two super hubs couldn’t be separated on the score cards.
The duo finished ahead of an all Chinese cast on the runner’s up podium with Beijing Capital and Shanghai Pudong tied in second place and Guangzhou Baiyun finishing third.
ACI also found it impossible to separate India’s Mumbai–Chhatrapati Shivaji and Delhi–Indira Gandhi airports for top spot in the Best Airport by Size category for gateways handling between 25 and 40 million passengers per annum.
Seoul Gimpo retained its crown in the 15-25mppa category for the fifth successive year while Sanya Phoenix won the 5-15mppa prize and Jaipur, a new name in the winner’s enclsure, took the honours in the 2-5mppa category.
In the Best by Region categories, it was a case of as you like it for Indianapolis (North America); Amman-Queen Alia (Middle East); Mauritius (Africa); and Guayaquil (Latin America-Caribbean), which all retained their titles.
Incheon, too, finished top again in Asia-Pacific, although for the first time in 11 years it had to share the spoils with Singapore Changi in joint first place.
It was, however, a case of all change in Europe where the Russian gateways of Moscow Sheremetyevo, Saint Petersburg-Pulkovo and Sochi were joint winners ahead of nine airports that could barely be separated for joint second (Dublin, Malta, Prague, Zurich) and third (Copenhagen, Keflavík, London Heathrow, Porto, Vienna) places.
The new category of Best by Size and Region gave a number of airports the chance to shine in ACI’s ASQ survey for the first time. They included Sochi, Dublin and Heathrow, which came out on top in the respective 2-5mppa, 15-25mppa and Over 40mppa categories for Europe.
Others first time winners were Grand Rapids in the US, which led the way in the 2-5mppa group in the Best by Size and Region category for North America, while Denpasar (Asia-Pacific), Dammam (Middle East), Istanbul Atatürk (Europe), Kingston–Norman Manley (Latin America-Caribbean), Nairobi (Africa) and Saskatoon (North America) all won Most Improved Airport accolades.
Worthy of note is that Jaipur, Sanya Phoenix, Seoul Gimpo and Delhi-Indira Gandhi airports were double winners after repeating their global success with first place rankings in the Best Airport by Size and Region categories for Asia-Pacific.
Incheon, the most successful ASQ airport of all time, was a triple winner after finishing top outright in the Over 40mppa section in the Best by Size and Region category for Asia-Pacific.
Commenting on his airport’s success, Incheon International Airport’s newly appointed CEO, Chung Il-young, says: “We continuously strive to do better and this now includes improving the old facilities and operational systems of Terminal 1 and completing the construction of the second terminal by 2017.”
Singapore Changi’s senior vice president for corporate and marketing communications, Ivan Tan, says: “At Changi Airport, we believe in delivering a passenger experience that is personalised, stress-free and positively surprising. We call this the Changi Experience and we can only deliver it with the strong and steadfast commitment of our frontline personnel including our dedicated and hardworking Changi Experience Agents (CEAs).
“The CEAs are our roving service ambassadors who comb our terminals armed with tablets. Rather than have our passengers walk to information counters, our on-the-go CEAs spot passengers in need and provide assistance such as giving flight details and directions.
“All the information they need is in their tablet. Together, our CEAs can speak close to 20 languages to cater to our international audience.”
Talking about his gateway’s success in the 15-25mppa category in the Best by Size and Region section for Europe, Dublin Airport’s managing director, Vincent Harrison, enthuses: “This is a very significant achievement for us as
just a few short years ago Dublin Airport was rock bottom in its peer group of airports surveyed in ACI’s service quality rankings.
“Since then we were determined to improve our customers’ experience of the airport and we have done that every year to get to this top spot.
“The key areas to drive passenger satisfaction at Dublin Airport are the courtesy and helpfulness of staff, security, check-in, cleanliness and the departure gates.
“We are passionate about improving our customers’ experience further and it is a key priority of our management and staff at Dublin Airport to continue to do that.”
Remarking on Indianapolis International Airport (IND) being named the Best Airport in North America for the fifth time in six years, Indianapolis Airport Authority’s board president, Kelly Flynn, notes: “The high level of customer service displayed by employees at IND is remarkable.
“Our customers see it because this honour is the direct result of their feedback. We deeply appreciate the airport staff and business partners for excellent service and we thank passengers for recognising great service and our great airport.”
Executive director, Mario Rodriguez, adds: “Hoosier hospitality is the secret to our success. Our airport is certainly a beautiful, world-class facility, but it is the hard work and dedication of our staff and our airline partners that distinguishes us year after year.”
Seokki Kim, president and CEO of Korea Airports Corporation (KAC), believes Seoul-Gimpo’s continued success demonstrates just how good its customer service levels are as he admits that the gateway is currently utilising “outdated facilities”.
He says: “Gimpo’s achievement of ranking the first in the world in airport services for the fifth consecutive time, despite its outdated facilities, is the result of the combined efforts of all airport employees who share the mutual goal of striving to provide the best airport services.
“We will do our best to continue to innovate and make improvements to remain a customer-friendly and business-oriented airport.”
Reflecting on Queen Alia holding on to its title of Best Airport in the Middle East, CEO, Kjeld Binger, says: “The fact that we have been recognised once again by our passengers through such a prestigious global organisation is further testament to our consistent track record of achievements and our efforts toward sustaining our standing as one of the top 20 airports, which serves five to 15 million passengers.
“Looking back at how far we have come since the new terminal was inaugurated by His Majesty King Abdullah II in 2013, it is clear that our competitive advantage lies in our conveniently smaller size, which makes for shorter transit processes and walking distances, not to mention Jordan’s stability and strategic proximity to Europe and Africa, making QAIA an ideal gateway for business and leisure passengers.”
Moscow Sheremetyevo believes that winning Best Airport in Europe for the third time in four years – this time sharing the honour with Saint Petersburg–Pulkovo and Sochi – demonstrates the quality of its customer service offering to passengers.
General director, Mikhail Vasilenko, enthuses: “Providing a superior level of customer service is very important because Sheremetyevo is the largest international airport in the country and therefore plays a key role in attracting investment and maintaining the competitiveness of Russia.
“The airport’s infrastructure will be modernised ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup to make it even more comfortable and attractive. I want to thank the passengers for their high appreciation of our work as well as our partners and airlines for our joint success and victory.”
Delhi-Indira Gandhi International Airport scooped two first places in the 2015 ASQ survey and was ranked joint-second best gateway in the entire Asia-Pacific region.
The opening of its new state-of-the-art Terminal 3 in 2010 certainly helped as operator, Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), proved good on its pledge to enhance service standards across the airport.
DIAL CEO, I Prabhakara Rao, notes: “The airport’s partners and employees have relentlessly delivered a distinct and enjoyable experience to our passengers enabling us to achieve three coveted ASQ awards.
“These achievements reiterate our commitment towards fulfilling our Prime Minister’s ‘Make in India’ mission and also act as a catalyst for the creation of a new paradigm for the passenger experience.
“In the fast-changing landscape of worldwide aviation, ACI’s ASQ benchmarking programme is the key to understanding how to enhance passenger satisfaction and improve business performance.”
Paying tribute to all the ASQ winners, ACI World’s director general, Angela Gittens, remarked that the ever increasing efforts of airports to concentrate on “ensuring a stellar passenger experience” appeared to be part of a larger trend.
“Airports have evolved into complex, customer-focused businesses in their own right that in many cases are in competition for passenger traffic,” she notes.
“From duty free and restaurants, to ambience, cleanliness, courtesy of staff, amenities, efficiency and more, air travellers are expecting big things from the airports through which they travel.
“More than anything, ASQ is a way for participants to measure the extent to which they deliver on these expectations.”