World's best airports

2012-07-16 15:07

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The fact that four of the top five airports in the world can be found in Asia speaks volumes of the aviation revolution taking place across the globe, reinforcing that business and leisure travel isn't predominantly focused in the former hotbeds of Europe and North America. Check out these interesting facts about the top five airports as voted in the Skytrax Airport Awards - in which 12-million passengers rate over 385 airports globally.

5. Beijing Capital International Airport

Also known as the Gateway to China, Beijing Capital International Airport is the main hub for Air China, the flag carrier of the People's Republic of China, which flies to around 120 destinations (excluding cargo) from Beijing. Hainan and China Southern Airlines also use the airport as their hub. To accommodate the growing traffic volume, Beijing Capital added the enormous Terminal 3 in 2008 in time for the Olympic Games, the second largest airport terminal in the world after Dubai International Airport's Terminal 3, and the fifth largest building in the world by area. Passengers have increased from 1-million in 1978 to 73.95-million of 2010 highlighting just how busy this airport actually is.  It also lays cliam to the title of first airport in the Asian and Pacific regions that has three terminals, three runways, and two towers operating simultaneously. With 1 400 flights from more than 90 airlines everyday, Beijing Capital International Airport is closely connect with other 223 airports in the world.

4. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

This busy Dutch airport serviced a total of 313 direct destinations with 49-million passengers in 2011, reason enough for Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to claim 4th place in the top 5 largest European airports. It is interesting to note that the airport started out as airport school with a military airfield back in 1916, with the first KLM flight taking off from the civil aviation airport Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in 1920. The airport is the primary hub for KLM as well as for Arkefly, Corendon Dutch Airlines, Martinair and Transavia. The airport also serves as a European hub for Delta Air Lines.

3. Hong Kong International Airport

In 2011, an estimated 54-million passengers used Hong Kong International Airport. HKIA is connected to about 160 destinations, including around 40 in the Mainland, through over 900 daily flights by over 100 airlines. It commenced operations in 1998 and now operates a two-terminal and two-runway facility generating enormous social and economic value for Hong Kong. The 65 000-strong airport community serves as the key contributor to Hong Kong's position as a leading international and regional aviation centre. While plans are underway to invest $12-billion dollars (about R98-billion at R8.18/$) in a new Cargo terminal to be completed in 2013 – plans have tentatively been accepted by government to turn the busy airport into a three-run-way system by 2030.

2. Singapore Changi Airport

As the seventh busiest international airport, Changi Airport serves more than 100 international airlines flying to some 220 cities in about 60 countries and territories worldwide. Changi Airport handled more than 46 million passengers in 2011, believed to be more than 9 times the size of Singapore's population. A flight takes off or lands at Changi roughly once every 100 seconds. With 360 retail stores and 130 F&B outlets occupying over 70 000 square metres of commercial space across its four terminals, Changi Airport is also one of Singapore's best places for shopping and dining. It is the home base of Singapore Airlines, Singapore Airlines Cargo, SilkAir, Scoot, Tiger Airways, Jetstar Asia Airways, Valuair, and Jett8 Airlines.

1. Incheon International Airport

Being voted the best airport in the world seven years in a row speaks volumes about the largest airport in South Kore. With four levels above ground and two below, it is also regarded as one of the largest in the world, with a golf course, spa, private sleeping rooms, ice skating rink, a casino, indoor gardens and a Museum of Korean Culture. Incheon has grown to become one of the most important airports in the whole of Asia and boasts around 18 000 monthly flights, almost all of which are international. Seoul Incheon International Airport is around 52 km west from Seoul city centre and is also close to Sindo Island, Gangwa-do and Yeongheung-do. The airport has an annual capacity of 410 000 flights and services an estimated 44-million passengers.  It is in the process of expansion, due to be completed in 2017, with the South Korean Government planning to add a second passenger terminal in the northern field of the airport and expand its existing cargo terminal . The terminals will be connected with each other by the underground "Starline" train, which currently links the first terminal and the concourse. This will take the airports capacity up to 62-million passengers and 5.8-million tonnes of cargo a year. Plans for Incheon's expansion also include adding more aprons to park planes and extending a railway line to the city centre of Seoul.

View the Skytrax top 100 Airports list here.

Read more on:    flights  |  travel international

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