Vancouver International Airport wins global award for COVID-19 safety measures: Skytrax

Aug 10 2021, 4:20 pm

For the 12th consecutive year, Vancouver International Airport (YVR) has been named by Skytrax as the “Best Airport in North America.”

Although global aviation demand is severely depressed, Skytrax — the largest annual global airport customer satisfaction survey — was still able to push out a ranking for 2021, based on 21.65 million completed passenger questionnaires.

Some categories did not see any award recipients this year due to COVID-19’s impact, such as the “Best Airport Hotel,” which previously named Fairmont Vancouver Airport at the eastern end of the international terminal building as North America’s best airport hotel.

Skytrax’s overall best airport ranking takes into account 39 factors that define an airport travel experience, including check-in, security, comfort, efficiency, signage, guest service, transportation, passenger amenities, and friendliness.

YVR is the only airport in the world to receive a “best airport” designation for 12 straight years.

In addition to winning the main award category, YVR is also one of 39 international airports to receive Skytrax’s new COVID-19 Airport Excellence award. This pandemic-time health safety award was ranked in no particular order, and YVR was the only Canadian airport to make it into this ranking, which recognized airports selected by passengers for providing the highest health, hygiene, and safety protocols. Passengers rated airports on factors such as COVID-19 information signage, hand sanitizer access, and the cleanliness of terminal and washroom facilities.

“It’s an honour for YVR to be recognized as the best airport in North America for 12 years in a row. To also be recognized in the new award category of COVID-19 Airport Excellence, as one of the cleanest, safest and healthiest airports in the world, is a true testament to the expertise, hard work and dedication of our entire airport community,” said Tamara Vrooman, president and CEO of the Vancouver Airport Authority, in a statement.

“Thank you to everyone who has contributed — from quickly implementing the ever-changing travel measures to operating the airport safely and with the highest levels of service delivery in our industry, this is something we can all be proud of.”

After a strong start to 2020, YVR’s passenger volumes, like other airports around the world, took a nosedive starting in the second half of March 2020 due to the onset of the pandemic.

YVR ended 2020 with a total of 7.3 million passengers — down from the all-time record of 26.4 million passengers in 2019. Over half of the year’s total came from the activity between January and the middle of March.

But with global vaccination rates on the rise and travel restrictions beginning to lift, passenger volumes at YVR are on the rise — by far the strongest since the start of the pandemic.

Last week, YVR was projecting an average of 23,000 passengers per day — a substantial increase from even just a few weeks ago.

In late June 2021, YVR estimated as many as 75,000 passengers weekly in July 2021, following the recorded volumes of 48,270 passengers in the first week of June and 59,192 passengers in the third week.

During a typical July before the pandemic, YVR saw between 60,000 and 70,000 passengers daily. At the peak of the pandemic last year, the airport saw only a normal day’s worth of passenger traffic over the span of an entire month.

Based on Skytrax’s ranking, the world’s best airport in 2021 is Doha Hamad (HIA), followed by Tokyo Haneda (HND), Singapore Changi (SIN), Seoul Incheon (ICN), Tokyo Narita (NRT), Munich (MUC), Zurich (ZRH), London Heathrow (LHR), Kansai (KIX), and Hong Kong (HKG).

YVR ranks 24th globally, just behind Vienna (VIE) and ahead of Houston George Bush (IAH), but this represents a drop from 30th place in 2020 and from the top 10 global ranking consecutively achieved up until a number of years ago. New modernized airports in Asia and Europe have overtaken North American airports in the rankings in recent years.

Toronto Pearson (YYZ) ranked 38th globally (up from 42 in 2020) and Montreal Pierre Elliott (YUL) ranked 63rd (down from 57th in 2020), while Calgary did not make it into the top 100.

Vancouver’s nearby competitor Seattle-Tacoma (SEA), which is currently in the midst of a major international terminal expansion, ranked 53rd (up from 56th in 2020).

For specific excellence categories, Singapore Changi has the world’s best airport staff, Tokyo Haneda is the world’s cleanest airport, Istanbul (IST) is the world’s most improved airport, Centrair Nagoya (NGO) is the world’s best regional airport, and Seoul Incheon has the world’s best airport security.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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