General aviation

Three Canadian airports honoured in global awards

A fountain adorns the arrivals hall at Ottawa International Airport (photo:

Three Canadian airports have won prestigious international awards for customer service.

Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International, Ottawa International and, for the first time, Ft. McMurray International Airport, have been honoured by the Airports Council International for their customer service.

“The Airport Service Quality Awards celebrate the achievements of airports in delivering the best customer experience and they represent the highest possible accolade for airport operators around the world,” said ACI World Director General Angela Gittens.

Toronto was voted best large airport in North America serving more than 40 million passengers, sharing the honour with Dallas-Fort Worth International airport. The awards are based on passenger surveys. Toronto, which served 49.5 million passengers in 2018, is described as a “perennial” winner.

Ottawa won along with El Paso, Texas in the 2 – 5 million passenger category for North America.

“Feedback is the most valuable tool we have as we work to ensure a great customer experience, which makes this award so meaningful,” said Mark Laroche, Ottawa International Airport Authority President and CEO. “Passing the five million-passenger milestone will put us in a new size category for evaluation. With the YOW+ terminal enhancement program set to touch many areas of the terminal, it is critical that we consider the customer experience as the airport is transformed over the next five years.”

It credits fast wifi, the quality of the lounge and the speed of baggage delivery for its high scores.

Ottawa’s plans include moving the security screening lines and reorganizing restaurant and lounge spaces in the terminal.

The baggage hall at Ottawa International Airport (photo: Ottawa International Airport).

“Airports have recognized that delivering a better customer experience is an important business tool in an increasingly competitive industry,” said the ACI’s Gittens. “ACI’s ASQ is the only globally-established programme that provides objective measurement and benchmarking for airports to help drive their performance.”

The big surprise this year came for Ft. McMurray International. The airport made the North American honour roll for the first time, recognized in the under 2-million passenger category. Ft. McMurray shared the award with Portland, Maine.

“Being recognized with an ASQ Award means YMM is living one of our core values – exemplary customer service,” said RJ Steenstra, President and CEO of the Fort McMurray Airport Authority. “Our world-class team has earned a spot on the global stage. I’m extremely proud of what we’ve been able to achieve together.”

The award was made that much more special because the region is still recovering from a downturn in the oil patch begun three years ago, which led to falling passenger numbers and flight cancellations.

Airports Council International is a trade association of the world’s airports, founded in 1991.

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