Hamad International Airport awarded ‘Best Airport in the World’
Hamad International Airport, Qatar’s gateway to the world, has been granted the ‘Best Airport in the World’ title at the renowned Skytrax World Airport Awards 2021.
Since the opening of Hamad International Airport (HIA) in 2014, Qatar’s airport has consistently risen in ranks, now seated at number one amongst 550 global airports. HIA has also been recognised as the ‘Best Airport in the Middle East’ for the seventh consecutive year and ‘Best Staff Service in the Middle East’ for the sixth year in a row.
The 2021 Skytrax World’s Best Airports award commemorated the efforts of global airports in adapting and persevering despite the challenges of COVID-19. In March 2020, despite the impact and hindrance of the pandemic on travel hubs worldwide, HIA innovated its airport experience to remain open throughout the global pandemic. As Qatar’s airport remained operational throughout the pandemic, HIA entered the top 10 global airport ranks in terms of its international passenger traffic, rising from the 16th position in 2019, to the sixth position in 2020. HIA’s success is owing to its pre-existing business continuity plans, crisis preparedness exercises, and health and safety protocols, as well as, additional changes for traveller needs such as: increased sanitation measures and contactless services by implementing advanced technological solutions, HIA was undeterred by global travel disruptions. As a result, HIA was also the first airport in the Middle East and Asia to achieve a five-star COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating by Skytrax in 2020. HIA was recognised for its commitment to providing a safe environment for all, operational excellence and passenger wellbeing.
HIA’s efforts to battle COVID-19
One of the early COVID-19-related measures HIA implemented were vending machines that provide disposable and reusable personal protective equipment (PPE).These vending machines hold both face masks and hand sanitisers for passenger use. Furthermore, with the long-term need for wearing masks, HIA developed an automated facial detection system that utilises computer vision and artificial intelligence, to ensure the wearing of masks for all its staff.
Another measure the HIA has undergone to reduce the spread of COVID-19, HIA was through its Smart Screening Helmets. As one of the first airports in the world to introduce thermal screening, the Smart Screening Helmets enable contactless temperature measurement for both staff and passengers. The airport further deployed autonomous disinfectant robots that emit concentrated UV light in high passenger flow areas to protect the airport environment. HIA’s passenger experience is also safeguarded with UVC disinfection tunnels that decontaminate inbound luggage from arriving passengers, as well as security screening technology which allows passengers to proceed through security checkpoints without removing electronic devices or liquids from their baggage.
Contactless passenger experiences
As part of its agile response to 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.
Engr. Badr Mohammed Al-Meer, Chief Operating Officer at Hamad International Airport, said: “It is with great pride that we announce that Qatar’s Hamad International Airport has been named the world’s best airport at the Skytrax 2021 World Airport Awards. This is not only a truly remarkable achievement for HIA and the State of Qatar, but an endorsement from our travellers for our commitment to service excellence. 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.”
HIA’s development during the pandemic has been lauded by industry leaders and has solidified HIA’s position as a benchmark for airports around the world. In 2020, Qatar’s airport was the first airport in the Middle East to receive the ISO 22301:2012 Business Continuity Management System Certification by British Standards Institution (BSI), demonstrating the resilience of HIA’s operations in the face of disruptions such as COVID-19. As a further success, BSI also certified HIA as the first entity in the world to implement International Civil Aviation Organisation and Civil Aviation Recovery Taskforce (ICAO CART) COVID-19 Aviation Health Safety Protocols. In 2021, HIA received its re-verification by BSI for its continued compliance with the safety and hygiene measures outlined by ICAO CART.
The future of HIA
As the world emerges from COVID-19, HIA becomes the Official Airport Partner for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. As the country is preparing to welcome thousands of visitors during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, HIA will host extraordinary fan activations across its terminal, as well as its expansion to the airport. HIA aims to boost capacity to accommodate 58 million passengers per year by the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and 60 million passengers annually, post-FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.
Edward Plaisted, Chief Executive Officer of Skytrax commented: “We are delighted to announce that Hamad International Airport has been voted the World’s Best Airport 2021. Inaugurated in 2014, Hamad International Airport has rapidly become a customer favourite and moved from number three in the world in 2020 to be ranked World’s Best Airport this year. Achieving this honour is very much a team effort, and our congratulations go to the management, staff and stakeholders at Hamad International Airport that help make this happen. As travel hubs worldwide have been impacted by the pandemic, Hamad International Airport was undeterred by the global travel disruptions and continued with its expansion plans while introducing additional airport health and safety standards. As the Official Airport Partner for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 we wish Hamad International Airport every success in helping to host such a major event.”
5G, Airport development, Apps, Baggage handling, Big data, Biometrics, COVID-19, Information technology (IT), New technologies, Passenger experience and seamless travel, Self-service, Terminal operations