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European Airports Trail Asia in Passenger-Satisfaction Study

European Airports Trail Asia
Heathrow Airport, ranked 99 in terms of consumer satisfaction. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Europe’s five busiest airports rank outside the top 90 worldwide in terms of consumer satisfaction, with Asian terminals dominating the uppermost rankings, according to research from Airports Council International.

Amsterdam Schiphol is the best-placed major European hub at No. 93, with London Heathrow, the busiest in the region with 66 million passengers, ranked at 99. Madrid, Frankfurt and Paris Charles de Gaulle are all lower still, the survey shows.

Singapore, Incheon-Seoul in South Korea and Hong Kong occupy the three highest spots, with the top 10 also including hubs in Beijing, Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur, according to ACI Airport Service Quality standings based on passenger surveys in the second quarter of 2010, which were obtained by Bloomberg.

Among major U.S. airports, Dallas-Fort Worth ranks 42nd, Denver 57th and Atlanta, the world’s busiest hub with 89 million travelers in 2010, is 69th.

Chicago O’Hare and Los Angeles, the second- and third-busiest North American hubs, don’t feature in the survey.

London Heathrow, the home base of British Airways, is ranked 27 places higher than Deutsche Lufthansa AG’s Frankfurt hub and 38 higher than Air France’s headquarters at Paris CDG.

London Rankings

Gatwick airport, EasyJet Plc’s main base and sold by Heathrow owner BAA Ltd. in 2009 under pressure from antitrust regulators, ranks 106th. London’s other main airport, Stansted, Ryanair Holdings Plc’s busiest U.K. base, is placed 111th.

Many Asian airports benefit from government subsidies and are free of capacity constraints, BAA spokesman Andrew Teacher said by telephone, adding that the company is investing 1 billion pounds ($1.61 billion) a year to improve Heathrow.

“That is why two-thirds of people now rate us as ‘very good,’ compared with one-third several years ago,” he said. “The facts show Heathrow as the second-best hub airport in Europe.”

ACI’s Airport Service Quality survey is funded by airports on a voluntary basis, and is never made public, spokeswoman Nancy Gautier said by telephone, with all participants signing a confidentiality agreement. The report is used for benchmarking purposes by 216 terminals worldwide, she said.

“Older airports tend to have a harder time than the new ones, and many of the airports in Asia are new,” Gautier said. “They also have a real commitment to customer service and they realize that they need a competitive advantage.”

Rankings are devised from identical questionnaires handed to passengers, according to ACI’s website.

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