by Mark Albert
AMSTERDAM (TVR) – These airports are really first class.
Airports Council International Europe awarded its annual Best Airport Award this month, just in time for the busiest travel time of the year on the continent.
The awards picked the best airports based on facilities, customer service, retail, security, community relations, and environmental awareness at Europe’s 500 airports in 45 countries.
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Spain’s Alicante-Elche Airport (ALC) won the crown for the best large airport, a category for those that serve 10 to 25 million passengers a year.
Judges cited its “remarkable performance” for successfully dangling sweet revenue enticements to lure nine new airlines and 38 new routes – the lifeblood of any airport.
The judges also highlighted the airport’s special areas that cater to children and passengers with disabilities, along with improving how efficiently travelers can flow through security checkpoints.
Germany’s Hamburg Airport (HAM) was the runner-up.
Among medium-sized airports, those handling five to 10 million passengers per year, Italy’s Naples International Airport (NAP) took off with the title.
Judges praised the “excellent combination” of airport leaders working with tourism development as a “great economic driver” throughout the region.
The airport also won kudos for “significant improvements to the passenger experience.”
Britain’s Bristol Airport (BRS) came in second.
Europe’s best small airport, those with under five million passengers each year, is Ireland’s Cork Airport (ORK).
The judges singled out its coup of snagging the first transatlantic route by low-cost carrier Norwegian Air, which recently announced a flight to the Boston area.
The panel also singled out the airport’s use of “innovative technologies” that include advanced parking systems, along with those that measure lines, as well as the improvement of airport facilities and its investment in safety.
Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport (OLB) in Sardinia took second place.
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Meanwhile, in the United States, CEOs from a diverse group of airports, testified before Congress earlier this year that they need billions more for airport improvements.
The House Transportation Committee announced a special email address to take passenger suggestions.
Lawmakers sought ideas as they wrote the must-pass FAA Reauthorization Bill.
A half dozen lawmakers, including Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), introduced the six-year bill (HR 2997) last week.
It would also privatize air traffic control, removing it from the FAA, while preserving the agency’s oversight responsibilities.
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