Airports play an important role in a region’s economic development and are so much more than simply a stepping stone to get from A to B.
They are used by business people to attend an in-transit meeting, or by tourists to enjoy duty-free shopping. They are vital for people travelling home for the holidays or for those jetting off to see family and friends overseas.
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As the airport is often the start and end of a person’s holiday, it’s important that it sends passengers off in a happy frame of mind – and welcomes them back in a way that leaves a favourable lasting impression as they exit to make their way home.
An airport is often a city’s largest investment, carrying the important cargo of people, so it must be up to scratch. As well as being efficient, with flights running on time, it also needs excellent passenger facilities, knowledgeable and friendly staff, a good selection of shops and plenty of dining options.
Read on to find out more about five of the biggest and best airports in the world, according to the UK-based airline and airport review site, Skytrax…
- Changi International Airport, Singapore
The famous Changi Airport in Singapore took the top spot for the sixth year running. As one of the world’s busiest airports, it is located on a site measuring 13 square kilometres.
Operated by Changi Airport Group, it’s the home base of many airlines, including Jetstar Asia Airways and Singapore Airlines. The duty-free shopping is superb, with items on sale including cosmetics, perfumes, alcohol, tobacco, electronics and computers.
Attractions include a nature trail (including the five-storey Forest Valley) and pockets of greenery dotted around the terminals, the Koi carp pool and even a unique butterfly garden, which is home to more than 1,000 butterflies.
There’s fun for all the family, including The Slide@T3 (the tallest slide in Singapore at 12 metres high), movie theatres at terminals two and three, unique stoneware sculptures by leading artists, kids’ craft activities, such as woodblock rubbing, and The Chocolate Trees luxury delicatessen.
In 2018, 65.6 million passengers used the airport, compared with 26 million in 1999. It opened in 1981 and passenger numbers have grown steadily since. Further developments planned for 2019 include a new Qantas first class lounge and a ten-storey, 3.5-hectare bio-dome, known as The Jewel. It will link terminals one, two and three and provide a unique leafy wonderland of shopping, dining and recreation.
- Incheon International Airport, South Korea
Located on an island just outside Seoul, the largest airport in South Korea, Incheon International Airport, handles 57.8 million passengers per year. Up from number three on last year’s rankings, it is Korean Air’s home base.
Incheon’s modern facilities include a wide range of shopping and dining options, in addition to a selection of interesting things to do. Take the Stop and Joy in Seoul Transit Tour, which includes a one-night stay at a top hotel and free time to browse the local shops.
There are plenty of cultural performances around the airport, with the main venue being the Millennium Hall. Mini classical concerts take place at terminal one, while live performances of traditional Korean and classical music take place in the Node Garden at terminal two.
Five Korean culture craft centres showcase different activities, traditional masked dance performances, a museum display of relics, a themed royal palace and the Korean Cultural Street, featuring traditional houses.
Artwork includes giant displays of cascading waterdrops, a virtual experience within a miniature version of planet earth (called Dreaming Space) and the Media Cloud, which is a state-of-the-art media playground for people of all ages.
The airport opened in 2001 and it was expanded to cope with extra passengers due to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The work was completed in June 2008 in readiness for the Olympics, which began in August.
- Haneda International Airport, Tokyo
Haneda accommodates 79.9 million passengers per year, making it the world’s fifth busiest airport. It is one of two international airports serving the Tokyo region and is a popular point of entry for tourists and business travellers alike.
Renowned for its service efficiency, shopping and general cleanliness, it is referred to as “Comfort City Airport” as a result of its luxurious dining and shopping facilities. There are 44 restaurants, cafes and gourmet shops in the international terminal.
33 duty-free shops include top brands such as Chanel, Jimmy Choo, Chloé, Tiffany & Co, Victoria’s Secret, Burberry, Bvlgari, Cartier, Gucci, Rolex, Hermes and Omega, to name but a few.
A spacious observation deck enables passengers to get a close-up view of planes landing and taking off against the stunning backdrop of Tokyo’s city landscape. The Tiat Sky Hall is a venue for live music concerts, talk shows, film previews, fashion shows and seminars.
Tiat Sky Road connects the Festival Plaza, Tokyo Pop Town and the fifth-floor observation decks. The expansive corridor features model planes from various airlines and the fascinating display describes ambitions for the future of air travel. Passengers can also enjoy a virtual trip in one of four flight simulators to find out what it’s like to be a pilot.
The airport has its own dry cleaning and porter services, a prayer room and a pet hotel, which includes indoor and outdoor dog runs and hair-trimming services for dogs, cats and small animals.
Located on a 48-hectare site, the airport started life as Haneda Airfield in 1931 and has continually expanded into the massive international airport of today. It’s down to number three from number two in the latest rankings.
- Hong Kong International Airport
Built on an artificial island off the coast of Hong Kong, the airport accommodates 70.3 million passengers every year. Previously ranked five, it is now named as the fourth best airport in the world. It opened in 1998 and is home to Hong Kong Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Dragonair.
One of the main attractions is the Sky City Nine Eagles par three golf course, near terminal two. It boasts a large chipping green, a good grass area for chipping and pitching to multiple hole locations and numerous rough areas around the green from which to chip.
The Aviation Discovery Centre, at terminal two, has more than 20 fun and interactive exhibits, including a flight simulator, where visitors can play at being a pilot.
If you visit the Dream Come True Maker Workshop at terminal one, you will find personalised products, DIY programmes and VR experiences for passengers who are waiting to board their flights. Children can play with building blocks, 3D puzzles and board games, or wear a pilot uniform and take part in a simulated flight.
Explore Hong Kong art and culture with a series of ever-changing static exhibitions across the airport. Recent ones have included The Legend of Hong Kong Toys and From Clay to Teapot, showing the wares of Hong Kong potters.
- Hamad International Airport
Hamad International Airport is one of the newer airports near the top of the rankings. After costing $16 billion to construct, it opened for business in 2014 and is home to Qatar Airways, accommodating 37.3 million passengers per year.
As the international airport of Doha (Qatar’s capital city), it has moved up the best airport rankings from number six to number five. The airport sits on 5,400 acres of land and is described by Skytrax as the most “architecturally significant” and “luxurious” airport complex in the world.
The airport’s most prominent figure is a giant statue of a teddy bear, created by Swiss artist Urs Fischer. Standing seven metres tall and weighing in at a massive 20 tons, it is nicknamed Lamp Bear, due to a giant lamp on its head. It was displayed at Seagram Building’s plaza, in New York, before being bought by the Qatari royal family at auction for $6.8 million.
In 2018, a second sculpture was erected at the airport, called Small Lie, by the American artist KAWS. The 32ft tall sculpture is a donation from Qatar Museum. Lamp Bear and Small Lie are part of a 20-piece collection of fine art on display at the airport.
There are plenty of duty-free shops offering top brands, such as Burberry, Bvlgari, Bally, Giorgio Armani, Harrods, Gucci and many more. Passengers can enjoy international cuisine from all parts of the world at a multitude of restaurants, cafes, coffee shops and fast food takeaways.
Other attractions around the terminal include the Vitality Wellbeing and Fitness Centre, the Quiet Room and a fascinating global art exhibition, created in liaison with Qatar Museums. Exhibits include giant sculptures such as Oryx, by Tom Claassen, Dia Al-Azzawi’s massive Flying Man and French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel’s spectacular Cosmos.
The airport handled 2.16 million tonnes of cargo in 2018 – an increase of 8.4% on the previous year. The latest attraction, a new Läderach Swiss Chocolatier store, opened in January 2019. It’s a chocolate-lovers’ paradise, selling more than 80 kinds of exclusive hand-made chocolates.
Automatic Access provides high-quality automatic door systems at airports, making the buildings fully accessible for disabled people and creating convenient access for passengers laden down with luggage. Please give us a call on 0116 269 5050 for information on our products and services.