World's top 10 best airports 2020: Singapore's Changi wins World Airline Awards for eighth year despite coronavirus downturn

Airports around the world may be virtually empty due to travel restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19, but that hasn't stopped the annual World Airline Awards from going ahead.

For the eighth consecutive year, Singapore's Changi Airport has been named the world's best at the awards run by research firm Skytrax.

A little over a year ago, Changi opened Jewel, a massive $1.7 billion expansion that added 90 new dining options and more than 200 new shops. It's centrepiece is a huge indoor waterfall that has quickly become a hit on Instagram (Take a look at Jewel in the photo gallery above).

The awards, initially planned to be announced at the Passenger Terminal Expo in Paris in early April, were postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Instead, the awards were announced via a YouTube video, complete with canned applause.

Mr Lee Seow Hiang, CEO of Changi Airport Group, appeared with a pre-recorded message in the video standing in front of Jewel's waterfall.

"This has been a challenging year for all of us," he said. "Like everyone else, here at Changi we continue to do our best to safeguard and protect the health of our travellers, our visitors and our airport workers.

"Let's look forward to better times, and soon," he added.

At the start of this month, Changi closed its Terminal 2 for 18 months due to the downturn in air traffic. Singapore Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said the airport was deserted and that closing the terminal would speed up the process of upgrading and expanding its facilities.

Asian airports dominated the top 10, with Japan's showing particularly strong with four of the country's airports nominated for the top award. Outside Asia, Amsterdam and Munich's airports also received nominations.

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In the Australia/Pacfic region, Melbourne Airport was named the best for the first time, and came 17th overall in the global rankings. Brisbane Airport came in at number 21 globally with Sydney at number 26. The best regional airport for Australia/Pacific and the first award announced went to Adelaide Airport (number 59 globally). The Gold Coast and Perth came in at numbers 61 and 62 respectively. Sydney Airport took out the award for best airport staff in Australia/Pacific.

Melbourne Airport CEO Lyell Strambi said the airport had been striving to make improvements in the past year.

"Last year we poured significant investment into creating a more seamless traveller journey and that ranged from installing smart security screening technology – eliminating the need for people to remove laptops from bags – to adding self-service check-in kiosks to reduce queues.

"We also made a real effort to improve wayfinding, reduce congestion on our road network and create a sense of place by attracting local brands and hospitality venues to the airport."

Although Strambi did not mention it specifically, the addition of travelators in Terminal 4, which requires passengers to walk long distances to get to the gates for budget airlines, was also an improvement which struck a chord with Traveller's readers.

"Although we're currently suffering from the devastating impacts of COVID-19 it is nice to reflect on the achievements made prior to the health pandemic, which saw Melbourne welcome more than 37 million people last financial year," Strambi said.

Voting in the World Airlines Awards is based on customer satisfaction surveys conducted online. The awards cover 550 airports globally and passengers from more than 100 countries participated. The survey was conducted from September 2019 to February 2020.

Other awards included World's Cleanest Airport, which went to Tokyo Haneda, and World's Best Airport Hotel, which went to the Crowne Plaza at Changi. The Pullman Sydney Airport won the best airport hotel in Australia/Pacific (Read Traveller's review here)

World's top 10 best airports 2020

  1. Singapore Changi Airport (Read Traveller's airport review)
  2. Tokyo Haneda Airport (Japan) (Read Traveller's review)
  3. Hamad International Airport (Qatar) (Read Traveller's review)
  4. Incheon International Airport (South Korea)
  5. Munich Airport (Germany) (Read Traveller's review)
  6. Hong Kong International
  7. Tokyo Narita Airport (Japan)
  8. Centrair Nagoya (Japan)
  9. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (Netherlands)
  10. Kansai International Airport (Japan)

See also: How a city smaller than Canberra now has the world's busiest airport

See also: Inside the deserted, 'zombie' airports of the travel apocalypse

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