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Leading by example


Airport World gets the latest news and reaction to ACI’s 2020 Airport Service Quality (ASQ) customer experience awards.

It might have been easy for the world’s airports to let their usual high customer service standards drop in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic significantly reduced their passenger numbers, but ACI’s Airport Service Quality (ASQ) survey proved otherwise with 89 gateways winning a total of 108 awards.

The winners included 33 airports that picked up new ‘hygiene’ awards in the ASQ programme, which was modified in 2020 to take into account the impact of COVID-19 on aviation.

ACI believes that the new Best Hygiene Measures by Region category provides airports with a reliable method of gauging the response to the new health measures introduced across the world and recognises their success in responding to the intense focus on hygiene.

The new category also complements ACI’s Airport Health Accreditation programme, launched last year, which has resulted in close to 300 airports being accredited already.

“ACI’s Airport Service Quality awards represent the highest possible accolade for airport operators around the world,” enthused ACI World director general, Luis Felipe de Oliveira.

“This year more than any other, the awards recognise those airports that have listened to their customers and adapted the services and experiences they offer to meet changing needs and expectations under very trying circumstances.”

The impact of the pandemic effectively meant that 2020’s ASQ awards were restricted to Best by Size and Region and Best Hygiene Measures by Region categories for Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America-Caribbean, the Middle East and North America.


Europe’s Best by Size champions ranged from four small gateways sharing the honours in the Under 2mppa category (Granada, Inverness, Ponta Delgada and San Sebastian) to Moscow Sheremetyevo and Rome Fiumicino jointly claiming the Over 40mppa award.

Other airports to scoop awards in 2020 included Helsinki, Prague and St Petersburg-Pulkovo for airports handling 15-25mppa; and Lisbon, Moscow Domodedovo and Zurich in the 25-40mppa category.

A total of 15 airports, including some of the above, were also inaugural winners of Best Hygiene Measures by Region awards.

Helsinki Airport director, Ulla Lettijeff, said: “Smooth processes, high-quality services and a customer experience that exceeds expectations are the goals we work for every day at Helsinki Airport.

“It is an honour to receive recognition for this work and be rated the best European airport in our size category. I am particularly proud of the recognition for our hygiene measures, because health security has been a top priority for us.”

While Prague Airport’s Vaclav Rehor, chairman of its board of directors, noted: “For the third consecutive year, we have received the best feedback from passengers passing through the gates of our airport. The awards confirm that we can ensure the high quality of our services long-term regardless of the level of traffic.

“The first two awards were won during the times of intense growth. The 2020 award shows us that not even the crisis associated with the spread of COVID-19 can prevent us from keeping our set high customer experience standards.

“Last year, we focused on implementing a number of protective measures with the goal of protecting the health of both passengers and employees. Big thanks are owed – primarily to our employees – as it is thanks to the quality of their work that we are once again able to enjoy this award.”

Francois Berisot, CEO of Belgrade Airport, which enjoyed success in the 5-15mppa category and won a Best Hygiene Measures by Region award, said: “These awards confirm our commitment to listening to our customers and maintaining quality service and safe operations especially during these trying circumstances.

“Improving the airport and service experience will remain our focus for our passengers and all airport customers.”

Belgrade shared its ASQ award with seven other airports, one of which was London City Airport, whose chief operating officer, Alison FitzGerald, enthused: “To be recognised in this way by our customers is absolutely amazing and testament to the brilliant job our staff do day in, day out – they’re the ones that truly deserve all the credit.

“We’ve long been known for offering one of the quickest airport experiences in the world, but I now hope that as passengers’ book their summer holidays, they will also see London City as the friendliest airport to fly from. We really can’t wait to welcome them back as our airline partners start to scale up their operations.”

North America

North America’s Best by Size winners included Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta and Toronto Pearson finishing joint top in the prestigious Over 40mppa section; Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall and Detroit Metropolitan doing the same in the 25-40mppa category; and Texas’ Austin-Bergstrom and Dallas Love Field doing likewise for airports handling 15-25mppa.

In the other sections, Victoria International was the sole winner for Under 2mppa; Greenville-Spartanburg shared the 2-5mppa accolade with Portland International Jetport; and Indianapolis, John Glen Columbus and San Antonio finished equal top for 5-15mppa.

Talking about Toronto Pearson’s success, Greater Toronto Airports Authority president and CEO, Deborah Flint, noted: “The COVID-19 global health crisis created unprecedented challenges for airport operators, and we adapted our operations and incorporated health and hygiene at the forefront of providing an exceptional passenger experience at Toronto Pearson.

“I thank our passengers for the trust and confidence that they’ve placed in us over the last year. Moreover, these awards are only possible due to the dedication and commitment day in and day out of our employees. With our Pearson employee community and our partners, we commit to leading the best in the next era of the airport experience.”

Flint also saw Toronto Pearson win a Best Hygiene Measures by Region award, which she attributes to the gateway’s Healthy Airport initiative, which is a multi-layered approach to creating a safe and healthy airport experience which includes enhanced cleaning, informed by an industrial hygienist.

Celebrating Detroit Metro’s triumph, Wayne County Airport Authority CEO, Chad Newton, said: “It is a great honour for Detroit Metropolitan Airport to be named one of the best airports in the world for the second time in three years. To earn the ASQ Award during a global pandemic – a time that has proven challenging for everyone –is an even bigger accomplishment.”

While Greenville-Spartanburg’s president and CEO, Dave Edwards, remarked: “In recent years, the airport has received numerous awards of excellence from industry organisations for our restaurants, retail stores, amenities and marketing activities. However, we are humbled to be recognised with such a prestigious award by the customers who have chosen GSP to meet their air travel needs.”

Elsewhere, BWI Airport’s executive director, Ricky Smith, called his gateway’s ASQ success “an incredible achievement, particularly in light of so many challenges”.

He said: “I thank our employees and partners for delivering exceptional customer service during the most challenging time in our history. I am proud of the entire BWI Marshall Airport community that has remained steadfast in providing an outstanding travel experience for our passengers.”

Latin America-Caribbean

It was a case of déjà vu for the Dominican Republic’s ASQ king, Punta Cana International Airport, which finished top in the 5-15mppa category for the fifth year in a row, only this time it had to share the accolade with Ecuador’s Quito International Airport.

Serial winner, Guayaquil’s Jose Joaquín Olmedo International Airport (Ecuador) won again in the 2-5mppa category while Curaçao in the Netherlands Antilles and Liberia’s Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (Costa Rica) shared the spoils for Under 2mppa.

Andrew O’Brian, president and CEO of Quiport, believes that Quito International Airport’s pioneering efforts to combat COVID-19 were integral to its ASQ success.

He noted: “The operational conditions and service standards changed radically as of March 2020. At Quiport, we asked ourselves how we could guarantee high standards of protection for the health of passengers and airport employees, and immediately undertook a series of projects to adapt and maintain a safe operation.”


Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria shared the honours in the Best by Size categories for Africa, with Moi International (Mombasa, Kenya) triumphing in the Under 2mppa category; Kotoka International (Accra, Ghana) for 2-5mppa; and Jomo Kenyatta (Nairobi, Kenya) and Nnamdi Azikiwe (Abuja, Nigeria) sharing top spot for 15-15mppa.

Kenya Airports Authority’s acting managing director, Alex Gitari, admitted that the award for his gateways was most welcome and comes at a time when both are undergoing major rehabilitation work to further enhance their performance.

He said: “Winning these awards is a reaffirmation of our commitment to providing our customers with a stress-free travel experience. We are truly excited and encouraged by these prestigious awards which herald a new horizon in our customer satisfaction journey across our airports.”

While Captain Rabiu Yadudu, managing director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria described Abuja airport’s success as a “huge feat that underscored the organisation’s relentlessness amid the difficult year occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic which led to financial struggle by the authority”.

Asia-Pacific and Middle East

Winners of the Best Airport by Size in the Asia-Pacific region included China’s Haikou Meilan and Shenyang Taoxian airports, which shared top prize with India’s Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in the 15-25mppa category.

Beijing Daxing and Bengaluru-Kempegowda finished joint top in the 25-40mppa category, while a magnificent seven (Beijing Capital, Mumbai-Chhtrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Guangzhou Baiyun, Delhi-Indira Gandhi, Shanghai Pudong, Shenzhen Bao’an and Singapore Changi) couldn’t be separated for top spot in the Over 40mppa section.

In the Middle East, Jordan’s Queen Alia International Airport retained its title in the 5-15mppa category for the third year running and Abu Dhabi International Airport triumphed in the category for airports handling 15-25mppa.

And the inaugural winners of the Best Hygiene Measures by Region award included seven Asia-Pacific gateways – Beijing Daxing, Chandigarh, Depati Amir, Husein Sastranegara, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Pune and Soekarno-Hatta – and two from the Middle East, King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Salalah in Oman.

Videh Kumar Jaipuriar, CEO of Delhi-Indira Gandhi International Airport operator DIAL, said: “Delhi Airport has consistently raised the bar in terms of service and operational excellence. DIAL has once again consolidated its position on the world aviation map.

“As we faced several challenges due to COVID-19, we adopted the best in-house technology and other precautionary measures to make flying safer and provide a superior customer experience. We take this opportunity to once again affirm that DIAL is committed to a safe and seamless passenger experience while they travel through Delhi Airport.”

Talking about Queen Alia’s award, Airport International Group CEO, Nicolas Claude, reflected: “More than ever before, 2020 was a year that demanded our deep understanding of the rapidly-evolving concerns, needs and expectations of our passengers. It was a trying period that further emphasised the importance of applying a customer-centric approach in all our operations.”

The full list of 2020 ASQ winners, including all of the Best Airport by Size & Region, can be viewed on the ACI World website 2020 – Current Winners – ASQ Awards – ACI World.

More than half of the world’s passengers pass through an ASQ airport each year. The ASQ Awards are sponsored by travel technology company and affiliate World Business Partner, Amadeus.

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