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Europe’s Best Airport Awards reveal top hubs for eco-innovation, efficiency and staff satisfaction

Jetting off: Which are the best airports in Europe?
Jetting off: Which are the best airports in Europe? Copyright Artur Tumasjan via UnSplash
Copyright Artur Tumasjan via UnSplash
By Saskia O'Donoghue
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The prestigious Best Airport Awards were held in Istanbul on Wednesday and recognised the best flight hubs across Europe.

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From strikes to delays, Europe’s airports are usually in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. But the recently announced Best Airport Awards reveal which hubs are leading on efficiency, staff satisfaction and eco-innovation.

The awards are presided over by Airports Council International (ACI), the only worldwide professional association of airport operators, representing over 500 airports in 55 countries.

Taking place in Istanbul, the 34th awards for the European region recognised excellence and outstanding achievements in various areas from across ACI’s members, from busy hubs to tiny regional airports.

Here’s a rundown of the standout winners.

A plane lands near the striking Alps mountain range
A plane lands near the striking Alps mountain rangePascal Meier via UnSplash

French airport wins eco-innovation award

The eco-innovation prize is awarded to airports that have demonstrated outstanding environmental performance as well as an innovative approach to environmental management.

This year, Toulon-Hyères Airport won the honour.

The French hub has managed to reduce its direct CO2 emissions by 92.5 per cent from 2018 to 2022, reaching 94.5 per cent at the end of 2023. By the end of 2024, it aims to reach over 99 per cent.

It has also reached the topmost level 5 of ACI’s recently introduced Airport Carbon Accreditation programme. This certifies airports for achieving a net zero carbon balance for emissions under their control and committing to across-the-board decarbonisation by 2050 - including manufacturing and consumer emissions.

Toulon-Hyères Airport presented a range of these projects in its application and was applauded for its proactive, voluntary approach to eco-innovation.

Goteborg Landvetter Airport in Sweden was also highly commended in this category.

Air travel can be super stressful - but airports do vary in quality
Air travel can be super stressful - but airports do vary in qualityMarco López via UnSplash

What’s the best airport overall in Europe?

The overall Best Airport Award is given in five categories based on airport size.

Torino Airport in northern Italy won in the under 5 million annual passengers category.

The hub was praised by judges for an impressive combination of driving post-pandemic traffic recovery - evident in record passenger numbers in 2023 - through a proactive approach to securing new connectivity.

Judges also commended a new photovoltaic plant installed at the airport last summer, which meets a substantial portion of its annual electricity needs.

Malta International Airport won in the 5 to 10 million passenger category thanks to its strong recovery from the pandemic - both in traffic and financial terms.

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It was also praised for its efficient operations, motivated team and efforts on sustainability, excellence and overall innovation.

For the airport with 10 to 25 million passengers annually, the UK’s London Luton Airport took the gong for its resilience, employee satisfaction and ambition to reach net-zero by 2040.

Despite a temporary passenger cap in 2023, last year was its most profitable and saw increased revenue and passenger spending. Infrastructure improvements featured new shops, lounges, and an electrified express rail service.

Following a major car park fire in October 2023, Luton was judged to be impressively resilient and able to limit operational disruption while maintaining solid communication among staff and passengers.

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Avinor Oslo airport won in the 25 to 40 million category, maintaining its long held reputation for efficiency. The hub boasts an innovative baggage system, drone detection and autonomous snow removal.

Turkish Airlines aeroplanes parked at the award winning airport
Turkish Airlines aeroplanes parked at the award winning airportLefteris Pitarakis/The AP

Although Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport is officially Europe’s largest, it was Istanbul and Rome’s Fiumicino hubs which jointly took the top prize in the 40 million passengers or more category.

Istanbul airport is one of the continent’s newest and was praised by judges for its investment in cutting-edge infrastructure, strong growth and operational performance.

Sustainability at the heart of their strategy, which notably includes plans for a solar power plant to meet all its electricity requirements.

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Sharing the top prize, Rome Fiumicino took the prestigious win for the third year in a row, with an ambitious goal to reach net-zero by 2030.

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