World's Best Airports

Manila Bulletin, September 7, 2005 | Go to article overview
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World's Best Airports

LAST April 25, 2005, Forbes Magazine released a survey conducted by Skytrax (an airline and airport passenger research firm based in London) that rates and ranks the world's best airports. The survey, widely regarded as the benchmarking tool for Passengers Satisfaction levels at airports throughout the world was conducted from June 2004 to March 2005 which covered 5,584,365 respondents from 40 global airports. Respondents to the survey were "asked about 31 criteria, including airport access, public transit availability, terminal comfort, ambience and cleanliness, immigration wait time and service terminal signage, ease of connections, entertainment, shopping and dining options, and Internet options,'' among others.

True enough, among the top airports of the world are those privately operated such as Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport and Copenhagen International Airport.

The privatization trend of international airports was started in 1987 by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher when she ordered the privatization of seven major airports in the United Kingdom namely Glasgow, Edinburgh, Prestwich, Aberdeen, Stansted, Gatwick, and the world's busiest airport, London's Heathrow. And records will show that the British privatization of airports resulted in more economical use of the labor force, much needed capital investments and revenues to the national government.

Ever since the privatization of British airports, several big international airports are now also being operated by the private sector, among them are Moscow's Domodevo International Airport, Toronto International Airport (with 110,000 square feet of shopping space), Philadelphia International Airport, and Spain's Aeropuerto Ciudad Real.

The success of airport privatization, according to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy lies in its "healthy dose of what makes other businesses innovative, efficient and responsive to consumers - competition, the freedom to act in a entrepreneurial fashion and the ability to raise needed capital without the hindrance of political considerations.''

While some of the world's airfields remain to be under government management, the global trend is actually airport privatization. The trend that began in 1987 with the privatization of the British Airport Authority (BAA) continued on to influence other countries to replicate UK's venture. Other notable airport privatization initiatives that followed include: "Vienna International Airport in 1992 and Copenhagen International Airport in 1994 both through stock floatation; Belfast in 1994 through ESOP; Vienna Airport in 1995 and Copenhagen Terminal II in 1996 both through stock floatation; several airports in Australia and Bolivia in 1997 through concessions; and Beijing in 2000 through stock floatation.'' (Do As I Say and Not As I Do - Why the United States Trails the World in Airport Privatization by Jane O. Gresham and Brian Busley - July 2002).

In the Reason Public Policy Institute's Annual Privatization Report for 2004, part of which includes a chapter on Global Airport Privatization, the current airport privatization trend is laid out: "In 2003 Asia paved the way to privatize some of its largest airport, including Hong Kong, Tokyo, Bangkok, and several airports in India (New Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and the New Bangalore Airport).

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