Hamad International Airport named best in the world in SkyTrax 2021 rankings

Singapore Changi Airport's time as number one has come to an end in the latest SkyTrax World Airport Awards.

Hamad International Airport and fountain.
Hamad International Airport and its fountain. Photo credit: Hamad International Airport

Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar has been named the Best Airport in the World, with Tokyo Haneda coming second, bumping Singapore Changi to third.

Finishing off the world's top ten were Seoul Incheon, Tokyo Narita, Munch, Zurich, London Heathrow, Kansai and Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Airport
Photo credit: Hong Kong Airport

Hamad International has been described as the most architecturally significant terminal complex in the world, as well as being the most luxurious. It's the home airport of Qatar Airways.

Closer to home

Auckland International Airport departure lounge.
Auckland's departure lounge. Photo credit: Auckland International Airport

Melbourne Airport was the best placed out of the airports in the Australia/Pacific region, coming 22nd out of a total of 100. Sydney was 28th and Auckland International Airport placed 35th.

Big mover

Istanbul Airport
Photo credit: Istanbul Airport

Istanbul's Airport moved from the 102nd spot in 2020 to 17th this year. The city went about a massive transport infrastructure rebuild, combining numerous busy airports into one new centralised operation. In 2020, more than 20 million passengers moved through the new airport - and that was during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Big names, low scores

Some of the most famous airports in the world aren't necessarily the best, according to SkyTrax.

Some would say London Heathrow did well to achieve eighth, but other big name airports are nowhere near the top of the list.

19th: Dubai International Airport, home of Emirates. In 2019, the airport processed 86,300,000 passengers.

61st: San Francisco may have the Golden Gate Bridge, but there's no gold when it comes to its airport. Processing 57,488,000 passengers in 2019, the airport is the second busiest in California behind LAX.

69th: London Gatwick processed 46,574,000 passengers in 2019, slightly more than half of its big brother, London Heathrow. That has often been the trend for Gatwick over the decades, with airlines and investment often being shifted to the ever expanding LHR. The busiest route out of Gatwick is Dublin. Heathrow's busiest destination is New York City.

70th: Dallas Fort-Worth is and always has been one of the busiest airports in the world, both in terms of passenger numbers, total flights and cargo. In 2019, 75,066,000 passengers used the airport, making it the fourth busiest in the world; but in this case, the 70th best with its SkyTrax rating.

Los Angeles Airport control tower and carpark split screen.
Los Angeles Airport has just about as many cars as it has passengers. Photo credit: Getty Images

75th: Los Angeles International, or LAX, is one of the most well known airports on the planet. With 88,068,000 passenger movements in 2019 it's certainly one of the busiest in the United States. Anyone who has spent time in its arrivals hall or pick up and drop off area will attest to that. 

John F. Kennedy Airport, New York.
John F. Kennedy Airport, New York. Photo credit: Getty Images

86th: The wooden spoon has to go to what is probably the most iconic and most referenced airport in the world. JKF, John F Kennedy Airport in New York. It's the door to the Big Apple, named after one of the most all-American historical figures of all time. It was the destination of the once unbeatable Concorde services from London and Paris, and if it were located in Auckland it would cover just about every suburb from One Tree Hill to Pt Chevalier. But despite its size and traffic numbers, it can only manage 86th on the list of the world's best airports.

There was also an award for the cleanest airport in the world - Tokyo Haneda took the top spot this time, with Singapore Changi getting the silver medal. Tokyo's other airport, Narita, came in third.

In the Australia/Pacific region, Sydney was named the cleanest, followed by Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide.

Interestingly, Nadi placed ahead of Auckland International Airport, in sixth.

The best regional airport in the world was named as Centrair Nagoya in Japan. However, the definition of regional airport seems a bit unclear, with London Gatwick and Hamburg being listed as regional airports, along with Christchurch, which was named the third best in the Australia/Pacific region.

Singapore Changi Jewel.
Finally, a gold for Singapore. Photo credit: Getty Images

The best airport staff title was retained by Singapore Changi.

Many of the titles such as best airport hotel were put on hold this year, due to COVID-19. They'll hopefully return in 2022.