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PASSENGER SERVICES Last modified on June 28, 2018

We are the champions

Airport World salutes the 2017 Airport Service Quality (ASQ) customer satisfaction award winners and talks to some of the CEOs of the successful gateways.

Athens, Belo Horizonte, Casablanca, Cleveland, Rome Fiumicino and Toronto Pearson were among a host of first time winners in ACI’s Airport Service Quality (ASQ) customer satisfaction awards for 2017.

Others taking top spot in their respective categories for the first time were Ahmedabad, George, Indore, Medina, Newcastle and Zagreb, 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.”

Specifically, Toronto Pearson and Rome Fiumicino triumphed in the Best by Size and Region categories for airports handling over 40mppa in North America and Europe respectively.

Athens (Best by Size and Region for Europe in the 15-25mppa category); Newcastle (Best by Size and Region for Europe in the 2-5mppa category); Indore (Best by Size and Region for Asia-Pacific in the under 2mppa category); Medina (Best Airport by Size and Region for the Middle East in the 5-15mppa category) did similarly well.

Other newbies to be ranked best in their class were Casablanca (Best in Africa over 2mmpa) and George (Best by Region under 2mppa for Africa).

While the Most Improved Airport by Region category produced four first time winners – Ahmedabad (Asia-Pacific); Belo Horizonte (Latin America-Caribbean); Cleveland (North America); and Zagreb (Europe).

First time winners

Reflecting on his gateway’s success, Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) CEO, Howard Eng, praised the hard work of airport staff for Toronto Pearson’s No.1 ranking in the Best by Size and Region category for airports handling over 40mppa in North America.

He enthused: “We’ve set our sights on becoming the best airport in the world. Our passengers are the key to making that vision a reality, and we’re grateful to them for taking the time to share their experiences with us.

“Together, the 49,000 people who work at Toronto Pearson – not only for the GTAA, but for the air carriers, the government agencies, the retail establishments, and more – have all helped to achieve this result. We recognise that we have more work to do to stay ahead of other great North American airports and compete with other large international airports around the world.”

He noted that the award is a first for Toronto Pearson and comes at a time when the airport has invested in a number of measurable improvements to enhance the customer service experience, such as working with the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) to introduce new, faster CATSA Plus security screening; redevelopment projects in Terminal 3 to improve shopping and dining options and overall ambiance; and a focus on maintaining facilities to a high standard, particularly bathrooms, with many undergoing modern makeovers.

Athens International Airport CEO, Yiannis Paraschis, described his gateway’s winning performance in the Best by Size and Region category for European airports handling 15-25mppa as “great news for us”, noting that a major revamp of the terminal’s Schengen and non-Schengen areas proved key to its success last year.

The upgrade, which focused on functionality, comfort and modern design, included the mid-2017 opening of new centralised security areas and the addition of 21 new retail/F&B outlets in an upgraded and expanded shopping zone.

He said: “We have systematically measured customer satisfaction levels since opening and have always scored very highly. However, I believe that this year’s award reflects passengers’ appreciation of the recent operational, commercial and aesthetic improvements to our infrastructure and services. Our aim is to always look to improve our offering to our customers, and we shall continue to do so with further investments in 2018-2019.”

Meanwhile, Newcastle Airport’s CEO, Nick Jones, couldn’t fail to hide his excitement at the UK gateway’s award winning performance, commenting: “I’m absolutely delighted that Newcastle Airport has won this award.

“Everyone here at Newcastle goes above and beyond to offer an excellent experience for our passengers and it’s great to see that that’s been recognised. I have no doubt that this will spur our colleagues on to continue offering such incredible service to all who travel through the airport.”

India’s time to shine

Overall, it was India’s time to shine with the country’s gateways winning three of the six global best by size awards, one second place and four joint third places.

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 into 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.

India’s 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 section where fellow Indian gateways Cochin, Kolkata-Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Pune finished joint third.

Talking about Mumbai-Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport’s triple ASQ success in 2017, Dr GVK Reddy, founder and chairman of GVK, which spearheads airport operator, MIAL, said: “We are delighted to win this award.

“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 service provided during 2017 to over 46 million travellers by 30,000 odd members of the airport community 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 Ltd (DIAL) CEO, Indana 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.”

Commenting on Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi 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 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.

“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 right fusion of technology and 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.”

Asia-Pacific success

Despite the unpredictability of this year’s results, the one constant from previous years to continue in 2017 was the continued dominance of Asia-Pacific’s gateways, with the region’s gateways winning all the global best airport by size categories.

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.

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.

Other Asia-Pacific regional 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 Best By Size and Region category 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.”

North America and Europe

Customer service king, Indianapolis, retained its status as the Best Airport in North America for the sixth successive year – this time sharing the honour with Jacksonville – and was rated the Best Airport by Size and Region in North America for airports handing 5-15mppa for the third year on the trot.

“This is more than another award, it’s a demonstration of relentless year-over-year dedication to customer satisfaction,” said Indianapolis Airport Authority’s executive director, Mario Rodriguez.

“Our primary goal is to continuously improve the value the airport provides to the Indianapolis-Metropolitan community.

“Our staff work diligently day in and day out to realise that goal by striving to provide an outstanding customer experience for anyone travelling through our airport. The awards are, essentially, a performance review of that daily focus – and we are clearly getting the job done.”

Other winners in North America in the Best by Size and Region categories other than Indianapolis and Toronto Pearson were Ottawa (2-5mppa); Tampa (15-25mppa) and Minneapolis-St Paul (25-40mppa).

Minneapolis-St Paul (MSP) frequently wins awards for its food and retail concessions, management, engineering and construction, customer choice and environmental stewardship, and its ASQ success in 2017 follows on from its top ranking in 2016.

“This is the second consecutive year Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport has been named Best Airport in North America in its size category based on traveller feedback, and we couldn’t be more thrilled,” said Brian Ryks, executive director and CEO of the Metropolitan airports Commission.

“Our vision is ‘providing your best airport experience,’ and receipt of this coveted award validates our efforts and those of our partners in the MSP
airport community.

“Employees from a wide swathe of the MSP airport community – the Metropolitan Airports Commission, airlines, airline contractors, concessionaires, federal security and aviation agencies, Airport Foundation MSP, and many other organisations – made this top ranking possible, and I want to thank them for their continued commitment to service excellence.”

In Europe, aside from the airports already mentioned, Sochi once again enjoyed a good year, winning both the Best Airport in Europe award and Best Airport by Size and Region for Europe handling 2-5mppa for the third successive year.

Fellow Russian gateway, Moscow Sheremetyevo also held on to its ranking of the Best Airport by Size and Region for airports handling between 25-40mppa.

Africa and Latin-America Caribbean

George (South Africa) and Mazatlán (Mexico) won the awards for the Best Airport by Region handling under 2mppa for Africa and Latin America-Caribbean (LAC) respectively, while Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) triumphed in the Best by Size and Region category for 5-15mppa in LAC.

The big winner in LAC was once again Guayaquil (Ecuador), which won Best Airport in Latin America-Caribbean for the fifth consecutive year. It also retained its title of Best Airport by Size and Region handling 2-5mppa and was runner up to Lucknow in the same global category.

Everyone’s a winner

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

“These winning airports have dedicated themselves to delivering a stellar customer experience. ACI World proudly recognises the accomplishments of all airports in the global ASQ network. I look forward to celebrating with them at the ASQ Awards Ceremony which is being held at the ACI Customer Excellence Global Summit in Halifax in September.”

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