Qatar’s Hamad International Airport (HIA) has been steadily climbing the ranks for years and this year, for the first time the airport has been rewarded with the number one spot in 2021 in the “World’s Best Airport” category. QIA takes its place at the top of Skytrax’s annual ranking from Singapore’s Changi Airport, who held the position for nearly a decade.
The recognition was awarded for the efforts of global airports in adapting and meeting the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The past 18 months has been the most challenging and financially difficult period ever experienced by the world air transport industry, and airports have invested to provide the safest possible environment for their customers and staff during the global pandemic.
HIA was the first airport in the Middle East and Asia to achieve a 5-Star COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating by Skytrax in 2020.
The airport has rapidly become a customer favorite and moved from No 3 in the world in 2020 to be ranked World’s Best Airport this year. It rounded off its success at the 2021 World Airport Awards by taking home the Best Airport in the Middle East, the World’s Best Airport in the 25 to 35 million Passenger category, and for the Best Airport Staff in the Middle East.
The new honour comes days after AirlineRatings.com – an aviation safety and product rating agency named Qatar Airways the world’s best carrier. AirlineRatings.com had applauded Qatar Airways for its “dedication and commitment to continue to operate” throughout the pandemic. The latest achievements reflect the Qatari government’s focus on improving the country’s aviation sector.
“This is not only a truly remarkable achievement for HIA and the State of Qatar, but an endorsement from our travelers for our commitment to service excellence,” Badr Mohammed Al-Meer, chief operating officer at Hamad International Airport, said in a statement.
“HIA continues to serve as a global benchmark for airports around the world, thanks to the dedication and collaboration of our team and stakeholders. To this day, HIA’s crisis preparedness, business continuity strategy, and agile and effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be recognised by leading industry institutions. As we look towards the future, HIA remains devoted to boosting our efforts in providing the best airport experience to all our passengers.”
So what makes Hamad International Airport the world’s best?
Apart from the fact that the airport is one of the most architecturally significant terminal complex in the world and the hub airport for Qatar Airways, It is also a major hub for the European and American travelers. The modern airport offers several state-of-the-art features including a wellness center with a swimming pool, hydrotherapy tub, gym, squash courts, and a spa that offers anti jet-lag massages as well as facials. Travelers can even rent a private, air-conditioned sleep pod or cabin.
Passengers are also spoilt for choice with its variety of food and retail options. From airport classics like Burger King to Harrod’s Tea Room, there is something for everything. Shoppers can choose from luxury brands like Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Kenzo, Hermes, and Tiffany’s among others.
Given the traveler needs for increased sanitization measures and contactless services following the pandemic, the airport retrofitted its existing services with touchless capabilities at key passenger touchpoints such as self-check-in, self-bag-drop and terminal elevators. It implemented its home-grown automated facial detection system to ensure the wearing of masks for all its staff. HIA uses its Smart Screening Helmets for contactless temperature measurement and autonomous disinfectant robots that emitting concentrated UV light in high passenger flow areas to protect the airport environment.
Qatar is also preparing to welcome thousands of visitors for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. The airport will host extraordinary fan activations across its terminal and ensure seamless connectivity through the airport.
HIA’s expansion, with its first phase aiming to boost its capacity to accommodate 58 million passengers annually by the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. The second phase will commence post-FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, and will serve 60 million passengers annually.
The World Airport Awards are voted for by customers in a global airport satisfaction survey conducted from August 2020 until July 2021. The full list of the top 10 in the “World’s Best Airport” category are :
1. Hamad International Airport (HIA)
2. Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND)
3. Singapore Changi Airport (SIN)
4. Incheon International Airport (ICN)
5. Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT)
6. Munich Airport (MUC)
7. Zurich Airport (ZRH)
8. London Heathrow Airport (LHR)
9. Kansai International Airport (KIX)
10. Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)