Cape Town - As the world moves into the hyper-connectivity of air travel, airports have become cities in their own right.
Ensuring that standards are high across the board has been the Airports Council International's (ACI), which surveys more than 600k passengers annually to understand which airports are getting it right.
For Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) the Garden Route's George Airport and Durban's King Shaka International have excelled - as the Africa's best airport serving over 2-million passenger and under 2-million passengers award categories respectively.
READ: What do travellers really think of SA's airports?
ACI announced that George Airport came out tops as Africa’s best airport in the category under two million passengers per year.
While Morocco’s Casablanca Airport took first place in the Best Airport by Region over 2 million passengers per year, this was followed by Mauritius in second place and Durban’s King Shaka International in third place.
UPDATE: King Shaka hits record 5.5m passengers as direct Durban-London route plans continue
King Shaka International Airport exceeded the 5.5 million-passenger mark in 2017, in a record year boosted by excellent domestic passenger growth and a consolidation in international numbers, according to the Acsa aviation barometer. The milestone means the airport has increased passenger numbers by over a million since opening in May 2010.
Africa’s most improved airport for service quality was Kenya’s Nairobi Airport.
All of this bodes well as aviation and its macro-economic impact on the continent take centre stage this year, with the African Union officially approving a Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) policy to open up African skies at the 30th AU Summit in Addis Ababa in January. It stems from the Yamoussoukro resolution, which has been almost a decade in the making and would see an estimated $1.3bn increase in GDP for the continent and create about 155 million much-needed jobs across Africa.
Yet only 23 African countries have signed up thus far.
UPDATE: Open skies: Hopes high for single African air market to fly
ACI published its Airport Service Quality Awards 2017 on Tuesday, 6 March as part of worldwide programme that surveys passengers at the airport on their day of travel.
The programme measures passengers’ views of 34 key performance indicators, with about 74% of the world’s top 100 busiest airports participating in the ASQ network.
Allowing passengers to rate airports according to their travelling experience is seen as an important component of the business of airports, says ACI, as it reflects on whether expectations have been met
'George SA's airport of the year six times'
Senzeni Ndebele, Airports Company South Africa’s Corporate Affairs Senior Manager for Regional Airports says, “We are very pleased to have received yet another Airports Council International acknowledgement of George Airport’s passenger service excellence, as voted for by the passengers that have arrived and departed from the airport. This success is largely due to the tireless work by our excellent team at the airport and their unwavering commitment to the continual improvement of George Airport.”
“George Airport has been awarded the South African Airport of the Year award six times, and this is attributed to its steady growth, coupled with an unwavering commitment to service and efficiency.”
George Airport’s annual passenger numbers continue to grow and welcomed over 663 331 passengers last year. The airport not only plays a central role in the region's tourist economy, but is a national distribution hub for cargo such as flowers, fish, oysters, herbs and ferns.
It was also Africa's first airport to be solar powered. In February 2016, a 200 square meter solar plant was launched at the airport, demonstrating a commitment to clean energy generation and sustainability.
Asian airports dominate globally
On the global front, Indian airports were the star of ACI’s latest Airport Service Quality awards with Mumbai and Delhi emerging as joint winners in the large airport category.
Overall, India came out on top, followed by China and Indonesia. Mumbai and Delhi have come out on top of their size category in an award for passenger satisfaction that was dominated by Asian airports.
Only one airport in the top three of each size category was outside of Asia – Ecuador’s Guayaquil Airport coming second in the 2-5 million passengers a year category.
“Objective measurement and benchmarking are critical in driving performance in any business especially in such a competitive and dynamic one as an airport,” says Angela Gittens, Director General, ACI World. “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 in September.”
The overall winners by size of passenger capacity:
2–5 million passengers per year
- First place: Lucknow (LKO)
- Second place: Guayaquil (GYE)
- Third place: Bandung (BDO)
Travel Planning: SA travellers to India advised of compulsory e-visa biometrics requirement
5–15 million passengers per year
- First place: Hyderabad (HYD)
- Second place (tie): Balikpapan (BPN); Hohhot (HET)
- Third place: Cochin (COK); Kolkata (CCU); Pune (PNQ)
15–25 million passengers per year
- First place (tie): Denpasar (DPS); Haikou (HAK); Sanya (SYX)
- Second place: Bangalore (BLR)
- Third place (tie): Chennai (MAA); Surabaya (SUB)
WATCH: SA and China strengthen ties to grow tourism markets
25–40 million passengers per year
- First place: Chongqing (CKG)
- Second place: Seoul Gimpo (GMP)
- Third place: Tokyo Narita (NRT)
Over 40 million passengers per year
- First place (tie): Delhi (DEL); Mumbai (BOM)
- Second place (tie): Beijing (PEK); Shanghai Pudong (PVG)
- Third place: Taipei Taoyuan (TPE)
Best Airport by Region – Africa: Over 2 million passengers per year
- First place: Casablanca Airport (CMN)
- Second place: Mauritius Airport (MRU)
- Third place: Durban Airport (DUR)
Most Improved Airport by Region - Africa
Best Airport by Region - Africa: Under 2 million passengers per year
- First place: George Airport (GRJ)
READ: #EcoTravels: SA's 4 main international airports mapped for carbon neutrality plan
Acsa say the ACI has congratulated Airports Company South Africa’s George Airport management for the 2017 ASQ Award achievement and invited the airport management to an awards ceremony at the ACI World Customer Excellence Global Summit in Halifax, Canada in September later this year.
“This exceptional accomplishment is a testament to your dedication and commitment to passenger service excellence,” says ACI.