Airports are ranked on multiple criteria with customer experience as a main focus. The Airport Service Quality awards determine their winners through annual international surveys; 600,000 surveys were answered in over 84 countries to rank the current best airports. Benchmarks such as value for money, availability of trolleys, cleanliness and layout are all considered. In 2017 it is estimated that 7.7 billion passengers travelled through 343 airports around the world. With no signs of the aviation industry slowing down (up to 300 million air passengers are predicted in Africa in the next 20 years), the incentive of winning the title of the best airport in Africa is growing.
According to the International Airports council the top 3 airports in Africa that service more than 2 million passengers per year are:
First place: Casablanca (CMN). Located 30 km from the city of Casablanca, Morocco is one of the top 5 busiest airports in Africa, serving 9 million passengers in 2017 through 30 different airlines. Its proximity to Europe makes it a perfect airport for common connecting flights to Paris and Dubai. With the 10-year renovations to their terminal 1 set to complete in July, Casablanca airport is expecting even more traffic, particularly through Qatar Airways (a new, exclusive partner of the terminal).
Second place: Mauritius (MRU). After undergoing a massive €270 million upgrade which doubled their capacity in 2013, this airport is now easily capable of transporting large volumes to their smaller island. These upgrades were set to improve economic growth in addition to better facilitating their booming tourist industry. At 56,900 square metres, the airport is the largest man-made structure on the island and consequently adheres to certain environmental policies. Hundreds of solar panels, natural lighting, indoor gardens and water-wise systems have all been installed to reduce the airport’s harmful effects on the island.
Third place: Durban (DUR). Known to service the golden triangle of transport between Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, King Shaka International is one of the busiest airports in Africa and as of October 2018, is the only airport to receive direct flights to Durban from London. The addition of this route is aimed to increase trade and business opportunities in Durban through overnight access to Europe. An 11% increase in international travel in December 2018 has indicated that the addition of this direct route is satisfying a large, untapped demand for flights to Durban. This growth saw 553,149 passengers travelling in December alone, consisting additionally of a new peak in flights between Dubai and Durban.
Although not awarded by ACI this year, previous winners Cape Town international airport and OR Tambo take the top spot according to Skytrax, an external ratings firm. Acting as the main gateways, these airports succeed in directing the most passenger traffic to Africa. And now with a multi-billion-rand upgrade investment planned for the terminals in Cape Town and OR Tambo, these airports will only be better equipped to manage the growing air travel industry.
Here’s how Skytrax ranked their top African airports in 2018:
- Cape Town
- East London
- Port Elizabeth
We hope you enjoyed that little lesson in Africa, and more so that you travel there one day soon!