US Airports Fall Behind In Annual Best Of Rankings

US Airports Fall Behind In Annual Best Of Rankings

August 31, 2019 44 By Stanley Isaacs


The list of the world’s best airports for
2019 is out and the winner is Singapore’s Changi Airport for the seventh year in a row. While the top six spots went to Asian airports,
not one US airport broke the top 15. Legal journalist Mollye Barrows contributor
with America’s Lawyer has more on what these rankings mean for America’s airports. Mollye, this study was conducted by a firm
called Skytrax. What do they base their rankings and listings
on? Well, it’s an interesting question. You’re right. None of it says good things for America’s
airports right now. So Skytrax is considered a prestigious consultancy
service for the world airport industry. They do this report annually and rankings
are based on the impressions of some 13 million travelers from over a hundred countries. More than 550 airports were included in this
survey and they cover almost 40 different service and performance parameters, including
how comfortable the facility is, the location of bathrooms and the language skills with
the airport staff. So this year study shows Asia continues to
dominate the top spots and European airports took seven of the top 15 spots. Well no airports from North America, South
America, Australia, or Africa even made it into the top 15. And like you said, the United States didn’t
even break the top 25 the highest ranking US airports are Denver International in 32nd
position, followed by Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International at number 36. So, ah, not looking too good in the ratings
for American airports. And so why is that? Why aren’t you US airports performing better
in studies and surveys like this one? Well, if you talk to the airport industry
leaders, they will tell you that they just need more money to meet growth. So according to analysts, too many of these
airports in our country need upgrades in infrastructure, whether they need an entirely new airport
or they just need to do some things to, to meet growth and maintain the level of service
passengers expect. So industry leaders, including the Airports
Council International – North America, they say the US government needs to invest, get
this, around $100 billion into it’s airports or they’re going to risk falling behind other
countries even further. So more people are traveling more than ever
and that’s part of the issue. The group Airports Council International predicts
global passenger traffic’s going to go more than 20 billion people by 2039. So that’s a longterm growth rate for North
America of 2.7% but funding to make these upgrades and building facilities is not easy
to get in the United States. Nearly all airports are owned by state or
local governments and they are required by the federal government to be as self sustaining
as possible and as a result they receive little to no direct taxpayer support. So even president Trump has noted, US airports
are third world. However, he ignored pleas to raise a federal
cap on the fees that would find airport construction projects. So industry leaders say they need that. It’s called the passenger facility charge,
they need that to be raised as well as other federal funding sources and even private investment. They say that’s something that needs to be
explored to get this infrastructure a boost and meet this growth and maintain high levels
of service that will get them higher on those rankings and also, you know, basically boost
the economy. Right, and you mentioned the fees there. I’m interested, I’m curious, the Airport Council
did they mention, they mentioned a lot of options, but did they make any specific recommendations
on which of those funding sources they think would be best? Yes, that passenger fee, they definitely would
like to see that raised. Their requesting that it be doubled. So back in 2000 Congress said that it needed
to be capped at $4.50 per passenger and that the industry leaders are saying that needs
to be doubled to $8.50 basically, or almost doubled. So they would like to see that go up. More funding there to be used for it. But so far those requests for money have not
been answered with very positive results. Yeah. There’s just one more important aspect of
the US infrastructure deficit and supporting international context there. Mollye Barrows, contributor to America’s lawyer. Thanks for joining us.