Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) managing director Jonny Andersen is impressed with Jomo Kenyatta International Airport’s (JKIA) new ranking as the best in Africa and 38th globally.
The ranking was based on a recent assessment of quality of service, on-time performance, and passenger experience at airports.
AirHelp Score rankings examined data from December 22, 2017, to March 20, 2018, factoring in delayed and canceled flights, public reviews from trustworthy sources and social media sentiments.
JKIA scored highly, flooring its African peers and hosts of globally respected airports.
“JKIA airport has earned its position as a key aviation hub for the region and indeed the continent. Being the main gateway to the country, continuous improvement of service standards will aid our success in reclaiming our position as the premier tourist destination on the continent,” said Mr Andersen.
The parastatal boss said that under his stewardship KAA continues to set new standards of services to customers, as a result, the authority recently launched the JKIA Service Charter, a document that promises to improve service delivery at the region’s busiest airport.
AirHelp, a technology company founded in 2013, provides legal services to airline passengers who have experienced a flight cancellation, delay or overbooking when traveling into or out of the European Union. The firm introduced the ranking system in 2015.
According to the ranking, JKIA scored an overall 7.9 per cent out of 10;8.3 on-time performance, 7.2 quality of service, and 9.3 on passenger sentiments — a clear improvement compared to last year’s scores.
In the 2017 rankings JKIA scored an overall performance of 7.1 per cent; 7.6 on-time performance, 6.0 per cent on quality of service, and 9.2 per cent on passenger sentiments.
Though JKIA slid from position 35 globally last year when it scored 7.1 per cent, its current ranking at 38 with a score of 7.9 is a significant surge.
Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa Airport, which beat JKIA in 2017 to be ranked 26th worldwide and first in Africa, is missing from this year’s list.
Also missing from the list are some of the continent’s largest and busiest airports OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg (South Africa), and Cairo International Airport.
Others missing from the list are Cape Town, Casablanca (Morocco), and Murtala Muhammed in Lagos.
In the new rankings, Kenya’s JKIA is ahead of world-class airports including Billund in Denmark at position 39, Porto Alegre, Brazil (40), Zurich, Switzerland (41), Gdansk, Poland (42), Gran Canaria Spain (43), Amsterdam, Netherlands (44), and San Francisco, USA (45).
Clinging position one this year is Hamad international airport, Doha in Qatar, with an overall score of 8.7, followed by Athens, Greece (8.69), Haneda, Tokyo (8.63), Cologne Bonn, Germany (8.6), and Singapore Changi (8.4).
Last year’s winner Singapore changi that scored an overall 9.0 per cent has been edged to position five by Hamad international airport, Doha in Qatar, with an overall score of 8.7, a decrease in score for the world leading airport.
Singapore changi was followed closely by Munich airport in Germany (8.6), Hong Kong airport (8.4), Copenhagen, Denmark (8.04), and Helsinki-Vantaa, Finland (8.03) - all of them missing from this year’s top ten best.
In evaluating on-time performance, according to the AirHelp Score ranking methodology, AirHelp collects data from multiple commercial vendors in order to create one of the most reliable and accurate collection of flight data in the world, it states.
“This database then cross references these figures with a variety of reliable sources such as government agencies, airport databanks, flight- tracking vendors, and historical resources, the report states, the report states.
“When different sources disagree, AirHelp ranks them in order of authority, but the data is not manipulated to estimate the ‘actual’ arrival and departure times. Minimal delays of less than 15 minutes are interpreted as being on-time.”
To measure airport on-time performance, AirHelp Score calculate daily on-time percentages of non-disrupted flights out of all flights departing that day from an airport.
Given the daily punctuality rates, a median is computed for the whole analysis period. Then, the median rather than the average, because it is more resilient against outliers.
As a result, the score is forgiving towards airports that suffer an occasional performance dip due to severe weather or other extraordinary situations, since it takes into account their typical performance.
On quality of service, it states: “In order to constantly improve the accuracy of our ranking, this year the quality of service score includes a larger diversification of the data sources used, including a combination of public reviews from some of the most reliable sites in the world.”
Further, on social media sentiment analysis the agency analyzed Twitter to gain a deeper understanding of how passengers feel about airports. In total, 184,703 English-language tweets were collected.
“Using machine learning and natural language processing techniques, we have developed a statistical model that estimates the odds of a tweet being positive. If the odds are high (80 per cent and higher), we interpret the tweet as positive, the report states.
“If the odds of a tweet being positive are low (39 per cent and lower), we assume the sentiment is negative. The middle values (40-60) can be interpreted as neutral.”
In addition, tweets have been ranked according to their relevance to ensure that tweets carrying no significant sentiment (such as airport weather reports, news feeds and car rental ads) are excluded from the analysis.
Finally, AirHelp Score calculates the average sentiment scores per airport and rescaled them on a scale from 1 to 10 - from highly negative to highly positive.