Asian airports dominate Skytrax survey

Asian airports continue to dominate the top ranks in the 2013 Skytrax survey of over 12 million travellers. Singapore Changi Airport was named the world’s best airport, followed by Seoul’s Incheon International Airport in second place, Hong Kong International Airport in fourth place and Beijing International Airport in fifth place. Only one airport outside the region – Amsterdam Schiphol Airport – was listed in the top five.

Singapore Changi Airport, Picture courtesy Wikipedia Commons

Singapore Changi Airport, Picture courtesy Wikipedia Commons

The last time that Changi came out tops was in 2010, this being the fourth time that it had won the title. If you look back at the list of winners over the past five years, the top three spots were very much a rotation among Changi, Incheon and Hong Kong. So much for the consistency of their standards but for this year that Schiphol has pushed Hong Kong down one notch. In the early years of aviation history, European airports such as Schiphol, Zurich and Frankfurt were the model for Asian upstarts which soon overtook them in many ways from cutting edge infrastructure to passenger facilities and service standards.

It looks like a tough task for many airports to match the Changi-Incheon-Hong Kong trio. Changi for one is constantly upgrading its facilities – and image – driven more by regional rivalry to retain its hub leadership. It has become the darling of transit passengers with its wide array of facilities that include free wi-fi accessibility, a cinema, a swimming pool, garden areas, and a wide variety of specialty shops and restaurants. Both Changi and Hong Kong come closest to adopting the airport city concept that in the 90s became the blueprint for constructing an airport that is more than a functional air transport interchange.

Skytrax chairman Edward Plaisted attributed Changi`s success to it being a leader and innovator within the industry.” He said: “The vast array of leisure and entertainment facilities really stands out at Changi and serves to highlight the extent to which the airport management has gone to ensure maximum levels of passenger satisfaction.”

But do not underestimate the growing popularity of airports such as Schiphol, Zurich, Munich and even London Heathrow in spite of that has been said of its congestion. Although Munich, for example, slipped to sixth placing last year, it was ranked fifth in 2008 and 2009, and fourth in 2010 and 2011.

Beijing Capital International Airport, Picture courtesy Wikipedia Commons

Beijing Capital International Airport, Picture courtesy Wikipedia Commons

But if there is one airport to keep a close eye on, it is Beijing Capital. Ranked fifth in the last three consecutive years and eighth in 2010, it was 17th in 2009, and this was remarkable progress considering that the airport as it is known today opened only in 2008. It ranked among the top five in this year’s best airport terminal and best baggage delivery categories. Its next challenge is to do as well as if not better than its winning Asian rivals in customer service standards.

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About David Leo
David Leo has more than 30 years of aviation experience, having served in senior management in one of the world's best airlines and airports. He continues to maintain a keen interest in the business, writes freelance and provides consultancy services in the field.

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