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British people are more fussy about the quality of their stop-over and hub airports than other nationalities, says a survey of travellers.
Well so we should be. The findings of the travel survey this summer by Finavia, the operator of Helsinki Airport, mapped the attitudes and habits of over 3,000 people from six different countries. Reponses to the survey were gathered from Denmark, Germany, Finland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Japan.
Helsinki Airport is increasingly serving as a hub for travellers, particularly between Europe and Asia, so Finavia regularly conducts research in order to better understand their needs - and actually their airport is among the best I've been to (although still a long way short of sitting outside in a field under a tree).
The study identified four basic traveller types; the largest group being “safety seekers” (64%), followed by “enjoyment seekers” (20%), “fast and efficient flyers” (3%) and “habitual travellers” (13%). Out of the six nationalities surveyed, the Japanese had the highest number of safety seekers whereas the highest percentage of enjoyment seekers were Brits. That rings true.
The travellers surveyed were asked about the characteristics they liked and disliked about airports, proving there are key variations among different nationalities. For example the Brits dislike big and busy hubs, favouring small airports that have good shopping whereas the Japanese were found to favour easily accessible airports.
In addition to examining national differences, the study investigated a range of travellers’ rituals and behaviour, such as purchasing and dining habits. This concluded that one in eight travellers takes a lucky charm with them when flying and 9% admitted to having a ritual involving food, drink or a tax free purchase on every trip.
Currently, nearly half of the passengers departing from Helsinki Airport are non-Finns. In 2012/2013, growth in passenger numbers is expected to derive from Asian destinations such as China and Japan.
The research also found that one in three travellers choose their flying routes partly based on the transfer airport. This is of key interest to Finavia as the company is focusing on developing Helsinki Airport to be a smooth and desirable hub by strengthening its position as the leading transfer airport in Northern Europe. Airports are becoming competitors in the modern travel world - they make money from every flight that lands and takes off, plus money from every passenger who trudges through the dreary over-priced gauntlet of ubiquitous shopping malls.
Anyway, Ville Haapasaari, Airport Director of Helsinki Airport says: “By regularly conducting surveys, studying passengers’ attitudes and habits we are able to collect valuable data which guides us in our service development. It is essential that we understand the needs of travellers so that we can better develop our airports and the services they offer to cater to new and current passenger groups.”
The findings of Helsinki Airport’s study are summarized in Smooth Travelling, a publication by Helsinki Airport, which explores the airport experience from different people’s points of view. It features Q&A on the topic of travel with prominent personalities; including Japanese Hollywood actor Koji Yakusho (Babel & Memoirs of a Geisha) and Vanessa Friedman, fashion editor of the Financial Times, as well as personal, behind-the-scenes stories from Helsinki Airport’s staff.
Smooth Travelling can be downloaded at helsinkiairport.fi/smoothtravelling
About the surveys
The research findings cited in this report are based on online panel surveys of over 3,000 people. The research was carried out by Cint in Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, Sweden and the United Kingdom in May 2012.
The numerical passenger data is based on Helsinki Airport passenger surveys conducted by Statistics Finland and a segmentation study by Finavia and Red Note.
About Helsinki Airport
Operated by Finavia, Helsinki Airport is the leading long-haul airport in Northern Europe. It has a natural advantage as a transfer point due to its location along the most direct and quickest route between Europe and Asia. The airport offers 130 non-stop destinations around the world and 270 departures a day.
Finavia takes care of 25 airports in Finland and of a nationwide air navigation system. With its air traffic services, Finavia creates preconditions for smooth and cost-effective flight connections. Annual net sales are about 350 EUR million, and Finavia employs 3000 people on average.
www.finavia.fi, www.helsinki-vantaa.fi, www.facebook.com/lentoasema,www.facebook.com/helsinkiairport
Finavia’s Helsinki Airport is the main partner of World Design Capital Helsinki 2012.
Okay, all that spiel on behalf of Helsinki airport is over now. So let's get down to the basics: which are the best and worst airports in the world?
Travellers from 160 countries vote in the annual World Airport Awards. Seriously, there is like a World Cup for airports, with them fiercely battling to win the title each year.
The latest results were:
1 Incheon (Seoul)
2 SIngapore Changi
3 Hong Kong International
4 Amsterdam Schiphol
5 Beijing Capital International
8 Kuala Lumpur International
9 Vancouver International
10 Central Japan International
11 London Heathrow
I've been to most of those and can't say I've noticed hem being much better than the norm. You still feel dirty, tired and stressed by the whole experience. And any survey that celebrate Heathrow as a good thing can't be right surely?
There's another annual survey, by travel guide Frommers, they pick the worst airports. Much more useful information... The latest results of that are:
1 New York JFK
2 Manila, Philippines
3 Moscow Sheremetyevo
4 Nairobi International
5 Paris Charles de Gaulle
I'm amazed that Gatwick didn't make that list...
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