The top 10 airports in the world in 2021: Asia and Europe dominated (surprise, surprise) with Hong Kong International Airport down four spots – but which snagged No 1?

The waterfall installation is one of Singapore Changi Airport’s most iconic features – but that wasn’t enough to make it No 1 airport in the world, apparently. Photo: Changi Airport/Facebook

Skytrax has revealed its World’s Top 100 Airports for 2021, and the reigning champion has been dethroned.

Since 1999, Skytrax – an aviation rating company – has funded a global airport customer satisfaction survey branded as the Passenger’s Choice Awards. Now in its 22nd year, the company continued the annual tradition despite the impact of the pandemic.
Jewel Changi Airport during in Singapore on August 19. Photo: Xinhua

Expert travellers reviewed over 500 airports based on several factors, including check-in, shopping, immigration, security, cleanliness, terminal comfort and ambience, choice of bars and restaurants, and airport ease of access. A Covid-19-specific section was also included in the survey.

European and Asian airports dominated the top 20 list again this year, with Doha’s Hamad International Airport taking the top spot and ending Singapore Changi Airport’s eight-year winning streak. There was an even split of airports in each continent making the top 20, though Asia saw seven airports in the top 10 list – three of which were in Japan alone. Europe managed to earn three spots in the top 10, which is an improvement from only two last year.

Melbourne Airport was one of Skytrax’s top 20 airports as of last year. Photo: Melbourne Airport/Facebook

Australia’s Melbourne Airport fell five spots from 2020, ranking 22 this year and knocking it and the continent out of the top 20 list for 2021. North America also lagged, with no airports earning a top 20 spot. Vancouver International Airport was the highest-ranking airport in the Americas at number 24, down from 13 in 2020. Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport managed to put the US in the top 30 this year with a rank of 25, followed by Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport at 42 and Denver International Airport at 44 – both of which dropped from 2020s top 30.

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It’s no doubt the pandemic has impacted these airports as compared to the 2019-2020 season, but their Covid-19 response was a factor in this year’s survey.

Here’s a closer look at the top 10 airports.

10. Hong Kong International Airport

Hong Kong International Airport is the largest cargo gateway. Photo: Hong Kong International Airport/Facebook

Hong Kong International Airport maintained its top 10 place this year, but fell four spots from six to 10. The airport is the largest cargo gateway globally and serves as a major passenger connector to China and the rest of Asia. Hong Kong is a hub for Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airlines, HK Express and cargo carrier Air Hong Kong.

9. Kansai International Airport

The departures area in Kansai International Airport, Japan, in 2018. Photo: SCMP

Kansai International Airport improved from 10 to nine in 2021 and is one of three Japanese airports that made the top 10 list. Constructed on an artificial island in Osaka Bay, the airport is the primary gateway to the Greater Osaka Region of Japan and is the closest international airport to Kyoto and Kobe. Kansai hosts the longest terminal in the world and is a hub for All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, Nippon Cargo Airlines, and low-cost carrier Peach.

8. London’s Heathrow Airport

Passengers walk at the Terminal 5 departures area at Heathrow Airport in London, Britain, on June 10. Photo: Reuters

London’s Heathrow Airport jumped four spots to make the top 10 list in 2021. Located on the west side of the city, the airport is the main international gateway to London and has consistently been one of the busiest airports in Europe year over year. Heathrow serves over 180 airports in 90 countries and offers travellers access to nearly every corner of the globe. It is home to British Airways and is a main operating base for airlines like Virgin Atlantic, KLM, Lufthansa, Qantas and Singapore Airlines.

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7. Zurich Airport

Zurich Airport features several art installations. Photo: Zurich Airport/Facebook

Zurich Airport improved its ranking by four spots to make the top 10 this year. The airport is the largest international airport in Switzerland and connects travellers to the city and, via ground transport links, many other parts of the country. It serves as a primary hub for Swiss International Air Lines and its sister company Edelweiss Air.

6. Munich International Airport

A photo outside Munich Airport at night. Photo: Munich Airport/Facebook

Munich International Airport fell one spot to number six in 2021. The airport is the second-busiest airport by passenger traffic in Germany behind Frankfurt and carried 47.9 million passengers in 2019. Munich serves as a hub for Lufthansa and its subsidiaries Lufthansa Cityline, Air Dolomiti and Eurowings. It also acts as a base for Condor and TUI Fly Deutschland.

5. Tokyo’s Narita International Airport

Seating areas in boarding gates are decorated with colourful furniture at Narita Airport. Photo: Narita Airport/Facebook

Tokyo’s Narita International Airport is the second Japanese airport to make the top 10 list at number five. Narita is one of Tokyo’s primary airports and is the busiest in the country by international passenger traffic. It serves as a hub for Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Nippon Cargo Airlines, and low-cost carriers Peach and Jetstar Japan.

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4. Seoul’s Incheon International Airport

A colourful window installation in Terminal 1 in Incheon Airport. Photo: Incheon Airport/Facebook

Seoul’s Incheon International Airport maintained its number four spot in this year’s rankings. The airport is the primary airport serving the Seoul area and is the largest airport in South Korea. Incheon is built on an artificially constructed piece of land west of the city centre and hosts over 80 airlines. It serves as a hub for Korean Air and its subsidiary Jin Air, Asiana Airlines and Polar Air Cargo.

3. Singapore Changi Airport

People walk along the transit hall area inside a terminal of the Changi International Airport in Singapore, in September 2020. Photo: AFP

Singapore Changi Airport ended its eight-year reign after falling to number three in the 2021 top 10 list. The airport has been consistently named one of the cleanest and most entertaining airports globally, hosting a cinema and butterfly garden, though both are closed due to the pandemic. Changi is Singapore’s primary air transport centre and one of the largest in Asia. It is an operating base for Singapore Airlines, Singapore Airlines Cargo, Scoot, Jetstar Asia Airways and BOC Aviation.

2. Tokyo International Airport

Haneda Airport has an installation on one of its top floors mimicking a 400-year-old Japanese town. Photo: Haneda Airport/Facebook

Tokyo International Airport, also known as Haneda International Airport, maintained its number two spot this year. The airport is Tokyo’s second primary airport and handles a large portion of domestic travel, though the airport is evolving to handle more international traffic. Haneda is the leading domestic base for major carriers Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airlines, though it also serves as a hub for regional airlines Air Do and Solaseed Air and low-cost carrier Skymark Airlines.

1. Doha’s Hamad International Airport

The installation of the giant yellow bear is hard to miss at Hamad International Airport. Photo: Hamad International Airport/Facebook

Doha’s Hamad International Airport took the number one spot in this year’s rankings, up two places from 2020. Home to Qatar Airways, Hamad is the country’s only international airport and offers flights across six continents. It is praised for its cleanliness, comfort, posh boutiques, unique artwork, Covid-19 response and indoor train that shuttles passengers through the terminal. Hamad is the Official Airport Partner for the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 and is undergoing an expansion to accommodate 58 million passengers by the event.

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This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
  • Which airport dethroned Singapore Changi Airport after eight years, according to aviation rating company Skytrax’s global customer satisfaction survey?
  • Covid-19 response was a major factor in the rating, and Asia saw seven airports in the top 10, while North American airports didn’t earn a single spot