Abu Dhabi lands airport awards

Abu Dhabi International Airport wins the title of most improved airport and is rated third-best in the Middle East in the latest results of a passenger survey from Airports Council International.

Asian airports may have taken top honours in the latest rankings on service quality, but Abu Dhabi earned its own silverware when it won the most improved airport in the Middle East. Abu Dhabi International Airport was also rated the third-best in the region in the latest results of a passenger survey from Airports Council International (ACI).

The results, announced yesterday by ACI, a global non-profit organisation, found that Asian airports offered passengers the best comfort and ease of travel. Seoul-Incheon was ranked first for the fifth consecutive year, followed by Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing and Hyderabad. In the Middle East, Tel Aviv was named the airport with the highest service standards, followed by Dubai International, which completed its first full year with its multibillion-dollar Terminal 3. Abu Dhabi, Doha and Muscat rounded out the top five. Gulf airports have spent billions of dollars upgrading facilities to make travel and tourism central pillars of their economy.

Last year, Abu Dhabi opened its Dh1 billion (US$272m) Terminal 3 for Etihad Airways, complete with lavish premium lounges, restaurants, duty-free shopping and a 1,650-space car park. It has also invested in improving its existing facilities, such as Terminal 1. The improvements will enable the existing terminals to handle increasing numbers of passengers until the Midfield Terminal is opened in 2015, which will more than double the airport's capacity.

The changes could include additional parking for vehicles and aircraft, upgrading the features of the existing terminals, and expanding the self-service check-in kiosks, which all increase the airport's ability to process departing passengers. The airports were judged on ambience, cleanliness of the terminal, comfort levels in waiting areas, the availability and cleanliness of washrooms, the level of courtesy and helpfulness of airport staff, business lounge amenities, ease of making connections, the immigration experience and shopping offerings.

"The 2009 passenger ratings show that, despite the economic crisis, overall satisfaction at airports increased by almost 3 per cent worldwide compared to 2008," said Craig Bradbrook, the service quality programme director at ACI. igale@thenational.ae