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Friday, October 19, 2007

Suvarnabhumi ranks higher in online poll

The embattled management of Suvarnabhumi Airport have received some consolation from a reader poll by an independent online travel magazine that voted it the world's fourth best airport.

The top three finishers in order in the Smart Travel Asia poll were Hong Kong International Airport, Singapore Changi and Kuala Lumpur International Airport in its Travel Poll 2007.

The poll ranked Suvarnabhumi ahead of South Korea's Incheon International Airport, which last March was named the ''Best Airport Worldwide for 2006'' by the Geneva-based Airports Council International (ACI). Incheon was fifth in the Smart Travel Asia poll.

Except for the inclusion of Suvarnabhumi, the Smart Travel Asia poll was consistent with the much more extensive survey released in August by UK-based Skytrax. That survey placed Hong Kong first on the list of top 10 Airports of the Year for 2007, followed by Incheon and Changi, which tied for second place.

Skytrax put Kuala Lumpur in fifth place, while Suvarnabhumi failed to crack the top 10.

The methodology of the Smart Travel Asia poll was not disclosed, though the online magazine said it was ''based on actual experience, word-of-mouth through friends and colleagues, as well as an idea of the brand drawn from advertising and editorial exposure in the media, a great deal of this online''.

The magazine noted that Suvarnabhumi, which has had its share of teething troubles, was a ''a vast improvement'' over Don Muang airport, which was closed for six months after 92 years in operation and reopened in March this year for some non-connecting domestic flights.

Serirat Prasutanond, the general manager of Suvarnabhumi airport, said the Smart Travel Asia poll was a welcome encouragement to the airport operator. But he conceded that it could be based on much less comprehensive polling criteria and sample size.

Perceived as the industry yardstick, the Skytrax 2007 survey was based on 7.8 million detailed passenger surveys covering 170 airports, conducted over 11 months.

The Skytrax survey also covers more than 40 categories of product and service quality, including terminal cleanliness, staff efficiency and courtesy, terminal signage and walking distances.

In the ACI rankings, Suvarnabhumi is now ranked 40th.

Mr Serirat said that AoT wanted to see Suvarnabhumi ranked in the top 10 in the ACI table by 2009.

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