Feature: Will KIA make it among the top 100 airports globally?


…As more airports reopen

The reopening of Kotoka International Airport (KIA)is less than a month since the President Nana Akufo-Addo’s announcement on Sunday, August 30.

Those arriving in Ghana are required to produce a negative COVID-19 test result acquired not more than 72 hours prior to scheduled arrival.

Arriving travellers have had to undergo a mandatory COVID-19 test, which involves a fee paid by the passenger. So far, its good news for airlines who have been struggling due to the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism industry. I was at the airport over the week-end to see off a friend. His impression of the process is that its somehow cumbersome. As uncomfortable as people may be with the procedures introduced, we must always remember that these measures have become the new normal as we have come to get used to in recent times.

As these protocols are enforced at K.I.A travellers must understand that its globally implemented in all airports.

Skytrax, an international airport industry rating body placed Rome’s Fiumicino Airport as the first airport in the world to earn “the COVID-19 5-Star Airport Rating”.

Skytrax is best known for its annual rankings of the world’s best airports. According to the publication from Skytrax, the organization based its rating on “a combination of procedural efficiency checks, visual observation analysis and ATP sampling tests.” Fiumicino Airport (FCO), also known as Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport, is the busiest airport in Italy.

On September 1 this year, the airport opened a 7,000-square-foot Covid testing center, which is co-managed with the Italian Red Cross. But it’s not only organized, rapid testing that Skytrax noted in its review of FCO.

The airport scored points for having easy-to-read signage in multiple languages, strict enforcement of mask wearing, visibly present cleaning staff and efficiency thanks to the consolidation of all incoming and outgoing flights to a single terminal for easier tracking.

In addition to FCO’s five-star ranking, three other airports have been awarded three stars for their Covid response — Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport (AGP) in Spain, Nice Côte d’Azur Airport (NCE) in France and London’s Heathrow (LHR).

According to the Skytrax rating system, five stars indicates “very high standards of airport cleanliness and maintenance procedures,” while four stars is “good” and three “average.” Two stars, the lowest possible rating, means that the airport’s anti-Covid protocols “need work.”

Accessibility plays a critical role in attracting tourists to a destination.

It is therefore imperative, ensuring our number one international airport continues to improve will be in line with propelling the over all tourism agenda of making Ghana the preferred destinations in West Africa.

Skytrax also rated the best 100 airports in the world and only four airports in Africa – 3 are in South Africa – made the list.

Any researcher will wonder why. Could it be that the high levels of investments in our tourism industry and for that matter airports are still lacking behind? What ever the reason may be, it is important to note that if Ghana will eventually be that preferred tourism destination on the continent, continuous improvement at our airports must be the priority.

Below is the list of the top 10 best airports;

1.Singapore Changi

Singapore Changi Airport has been named as the World’s Best Airport for the eighth consecutive year by customers at the 2020 World Airport Awards. Changi Airport also won the award for the World’s Best Airport Leisure Amenities. Singapore Changi Airport connects customers to over 200 destinations worldwide, with 5000 arrivals and departures a week by 80 international airlines. Changi Airport was voted the Best Airport in Asia, World’s Best Airport Leisure Amenities, and Best Airport: 60-70 million passengers in 2020.

2. Tokyo Haneda

Boasting both domestic and international terminals, Tokyo International Airport Haneda plays a very important role in furthering Japan’s development as a tourism-oriented nation. Haneda was named the Best Airport: 70+ million passengers, World’s Cleanest Airport, World’s Best Domestic Airport, and World’s Best PRM/Accessible Facilities in 2020.

3. Doha Hamad

Hamad International Airport is the international airport for Doha, capital city of Qatar. The airport has been described as the most architecturally significant terminal complex in the world, as well as being the most luxurious. Hamad was voted the Best Airport in the Middle East, Best Airport: 30-40 million passengers, and Best Airport Staff in the Middle East in 2020.

4. Seoul Incheon

Incheon International Airport is the largest airport in South Korea and one of the busiest airports in the world. It is a former winner of the Airport of the Year title at the World Airport Awards. Incheon International Airport was named the winner of World’s Best Transit Airport in 2020. Terminal 2 at Incheon International Airport was named World’s Best Airport Terminal in 2020.

5. Munich

Munich Airport is the second busiest airport in Germany and the secondary hub for Lufthansa German Airlines. With over 150 retail stores and some 50 places where you can eat and drink, it’s like a city centre, offering travelers and visitors plenty to see and do. Munich was voted the Best Airport in Europe, Best Airport in Central Europe, and Best Airport: 40-50 million passengers in 2020.

6. Hong Kong

Hong Kong International Airport serves over 100 airlines operating flights to about 180 locations worldwide, including 44 destinations on the Chinese Mainland. It is a former, multiple winner of the Airport of the Year title at the World Airport Awards. Hong Kong was named the World’s Best Airport Immigration Service in 2020.

7. Tokyo Narita

Tokyo Narita Airport is an international airport serving the Greater Tokyo Area of Japan. Narita serves as the international hub for Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways. As of 2016, Narita was the second-busiest passenger airport in Japan. Narita Airport was named World’s Best Airport Dining in 2020.

8. Centrair Nagoya

In 2014, 9.8 million passengers travelled through Central Japan International Airport in Nagoya, better known as Centrair. The airport has a large domestic traffic percentage, with a number of regional routes operated to Asian cities. Longer haul routes include Helsinki, Frankfurt, Honolulu and Detroit. Centrair was named the World’s Best Regional Airport, and Best Airport: 10-20 million passengers in 2020.

9. Amsterdam Schiphol

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is the main international airport of the Netherlands. Schiphol Airport is the third-busiest airport in Europe in terms of passenger volume and the busiest in Europe in terms of aircraft movement. Schiphol Airport was voted the Best Airport in Western Europe in 2020.

10. Kansai

Kansai International Airport (KIX) opened in 1994, and has since become an important international hub for Japan, providing one of the largest networks for both domestic and international routes with 24-hour operations. Kansai was named Best Airport Staff in Asia, World’s Best Airport Staff and World’s Best Airport for Baggage Delivery in 2020.

Mr Lee Seow Hiang, Chief Executive Officer of Changi Airport Group said, “Changi Airport is humbled to receive this affirmation from our travellers, made possible by the strong support from our airport partners.

This has been a challenging year for all us. Like everyone else, here at Changi, we continue to do our best to safeguard and protect the health of our travellers, our visitors and our airport workers.

We wish everyone in the international aviation community well. Let’s look forward to better times and soon.” Mr Edward Plaisted, CEO of Skytrax said, “For Singapore Changi Airport to be voted the World’s Best Airport title for eight consecutive years is a truly remarkable achievement and demonstrates a simply fantastic level of consistency.

Singapore Changi Airport remains a very popular choice with customers and delights at nearly all points in the airport journey, and it is this attention to detail that proves so popular. This year also marks the first time that customers have been able to recognise Jewel Changi Airport, a multi-dimensional destination filled with inspiring attractions, unique retail and dining concepts.

The annual survey and awards finalisation was all completed this year in March, but due to Covid-19 the awards event scheduled for 1st April Paris was cancelled. Having deferred the award announcements for nearly six weeks, we felt it was now right to try and bring some cheer into the airport industry in these difficult times.”

For Singapore airport to continually make it to the top for this past eight years means we in Ghana can also get there. Already, KIA has been adjudged the best airport in West Africa.

As our tourism begins the recovery process this month when world tourism day is celebrated, we must be inspired that tourism will bounce back to where it has been.

Philip Gebu is a Tourism Lecturer. He is the C.E.O of FoReal Destinations Ltd, a Tourism Destinations Management and Marketing Company based in Ghana and with partners in many other countries. Please contact Philip with your comments and suggestions.

Write to [email protected] / [email protected]. Visit our website at or call or WhatsApp +233(0)244295901/0264295901. Visit our social media sites Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: FoReal Destinations

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