Eight of the world’s ten worst airports are located in the EU, according to a new survey released by a leading passenger rights group last week. Only three of the top ten airports are in EU countries.
Airports in France, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and the UK are among the world’s worst for on-time performance, services and shops.
That is according to a new ranking that took into account official flight data and surveys that asked the opinion of 40,000 travellers.
AirHelp, a group that claims to be the world’s leading specialist in passenger rights, concluded that Portugal’s Lisbon Portela Airport was the worst of the 132 airports surveyed, scoring just 5.7 out of a possible ten points.
The Netherlands’ Eindhoven Airport placed 130th, Bucharest 129th, Malta International Airport 128th, Manchester 127th, Paris Orly 126th, Porto 125th and London Gatwick 123rd, rounding off the bottom ten worst performers.
On-time performance was given a 60% weighting for the overall score, while services and food & shops were weighted 20% each. AirHelp decided only to survey what are considered “popular airports” and ones for which enough data can be collected.
The ranking also crowned the best airport in the world, which was once again Qatar’s Hamad International, after the Middle East hub also won the accolade last year.
Only three of the top ten are EU airports: Athens International placed third, dropping a spot since 2018, Gdansk ranked fifth and Tenerife North Airport came in ninth.
In what could be a surprising result for Brussels’ jet-setters, out of the two airports that serve the home of the EU institutions, Charleroi placed way above the main airport, Zaventem.
The low-cost carrier hub managed to secure 14th place overall, thanks to a respectable on-time score, while Zaventem failed to make the top 100, languishing in 115th.
Aviation experts told EURACTIV that because on-time performance counts so much for the overall score, it is not unsurprising that airports like Hamad, Athens and Tenerife placed so highly, as weather delays are not such a prominent factor in their locations.
But one airline source was surprised at the Spanish island placing so highly, revealing that they “had diverted more times than landed there” due to difficult weather conditions and the airport’s location in a valley.
Bad weather would account for a complete lack of US representation in the top ten, as meteorological-based delays are a common problem in many of the States’ main hubs. Atlanta was its highest placed entry in 34th position.
AirHelp CEO Henrik Zillmer said that congestion and long queues also counted against some of the world’s most well-known airports, which are still struggling to adapt to increasing passenger numbers.
The number of kilometres travelled by airplane in the EU, for example, has surged by 60% since 2005 and the upward trend is only expected to continue, according to a report earlier this year on aviation’s environmental impact.
Last week, official EU data compiler Eurostat revealed that one out of every six transport trips made by EU citizens in 2017 was by plane, some 218 million journeys out of a total 1.3 billion.