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These are the 10 best airports in the world

International airline consultancy group, Skytrax has published its 2021 World Airport Awards, listing and ranking the top international airports in the world based on traveller experiences.

The awards are based on an international survey of travellers which was conducted between August 2020 and July 2021.

The survey evaluates traveller experiences across different airport service and product key performance indicators – from check-in, arrivals, transfers, shopping, security and immigration through to departure at the gate.

Given the state of travel in 2020/21 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the latest survey also contained a specific Covid-19 section.

Three South African airports made the top 100 rankings in 2021, with two others features in the regional rankings.

Cape Town International Airport was the top-rated South African airport in the 2021 ranking, placing 33rd overall. This is down from 23rd position in 2020. It was ranked the best airport in Africa and also scored the award for having the best airport staff on the continent.

Durban’s King Shaka International Airport also featured in the top 100, ranking 52nd overall, down from 32nd in 2020. King Shaka was voted the best regional airport in Africa.

Joburg’s OR Tambo International airport ranked 54th, down from 36th last year.

Other South African airports only feature on the regional list, with Gqeberha’s Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport (formerly Port Elizabeth International Airport) and Bloemfontein’s Bram Fischer International Airport ranking as the 9th and 10th best airports in Africa, respectively.

Globally, Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, was ranked as the top international airport in the world, up from the third position in 2020. Tokyo’s Haneda International retained its second-place spot, while Singapore’s Changi International airport dropped from first position last year to third in 2021.

According to Skytrax, its annual survey was conducted during the Covid-19 pandemic which impacted international travel in most countries. As a result, many travellers voted for their favourite / best airport based on pre-pandemic travel experiences, while others voted after their Covid-19 airport experience during the past 12 months.

This led to the inclusion of a special Covid-19 excellence award in 2021, where 38 international airports were listed as having exceeded travellers’ expectations while travelling during the pandemic.

Customers rated airport Covid-19 standards across key categories including Covid-19 information signage, face mask usage enforced, visibility and availability of hand sanitiser, social distancing markings/signage, enforcement of social distancing, seating / F&B social distancing, hygiene procedures at security, social distancing at security/immigration, terminal cleanliness and washroom cleanliness.

This is what the 10 best airports in the world look like:


Hamad International Airport, Doha


Haneda International Airport, Tokyo


Changi International Airport, Singapore


Read: New tourism and travel rules to boost South Africa


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