The Annual Airports Council International (ACI) Europe Best Airport Awards winners were announced last week during the Gala Dinner of the 32nd ACI Europe Annual Congress and General Assembly, taking place in Rome, Italy, and hosted by Aeroporti di Roma.
The Best Airport Awards recognise excellence and outstanding achievement across the entire portfolio of airport activities. This year has been characterised by both the many ways in which airports are recovering after Covid-19 pandemic and the increasing focus on sustainability-related achievements. Airports in this section are divided into five groups, according to 2019 passenger traffic.
To recognise airports’ efforts in key areas, the Awards portfolio also includes the Eco-Innovation Award, the Human Resources Excellence Award and the Digital Transformation Award.
This year’s judging panel comprised representatives from the European Commission, EUROCONTROL, SESAR Joint Undertaking, the International Transport Forum and ECAC. Eco-Innovation Award submissions were held to scrutiny by the Advisory Board of Airport Carbon Accreditation.
1. Under 5 million passengers: La Palma Airport and Torino Airport
Joint winners have been announced for the first category this year. The award for the under 5 million passengers category went to both La Palma Airport for resilience not only during the Covid-19 crisis but also during the Cumbre Vieja volcanic eruption, and Torino Airport for its significant recovery post-pandemic and the work on innovation and sustainability.
2. 5-10 million passengers: Valencia Airport
The 5-10 million passengers award went to Valencia Airport. The jury especially highlighted the significant operations put in place to cope with the pandemic measures, including cargo traffic and medical flights. Valencia Airport is also a SAF pioneer, being a test airport for Aena’s collaboration with BP. They received praise for their continued investment in quality of service improvements such as a new automatic border control system.
Eindhoven Airport was also highly commended in this category.
3. 10-25 million passengers: Porto Airport
This year’s Award in the 10-25 million passengers category was given to Porto Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport. The airport was praised for its impressive recovery from the pandemic and its plan focussing on fighting climate change, which engaged both the airport and its stakeholders. Very committed to the local community and the region, the airport has implemented initiatives such as rainwater collection, the reduction in water footprint and organic waste collection to a nearby waste park.
4. 25-40 million passengers: Vienna Airport
The winner of the 25-40 million passengers category was Vienna International Airport. The Austrian airport took the opportunity, initially forced by the pandemic, to modernise and innovate. Terminal 2 was redesigned and reopened, and the Vienna Lounge was renovated, introducing the “smart lounges” and sleeping pods available for passengers inside the airport. The airport’s commitments on sustainability also received praise, as Vienna airport plans to become carbon neutral by 2023 and net zero by 2035.
Athens Airport was also highly commended in this category.
5. Over 40 million passengers: Rome Fiumicino Airport
This year’s Award in the over 40 million passengers category went to Rome Fiumicino Airport in recognition of its leadership position among the continent’s hubs. Rome Fiumicino has led on the innovation plan this year, with the opening of a new APOC, but also a new SAF facility, making it the first Italian airport to offer SAF.
The Roman hub is also the leader on sustainability, being the first European airport to achieve Level 4+ of the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme.
Innovation standards are set very high, with a new, ambitious Innovation Plan to spur digital transformation, plus the opening of the new Aviation Innovation Hub, as well as through collaborations with key stakeholders and a strong focus on local business development.
iGA Istanbul Grand Airport was also highly commended for this Award.