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AIRPORT RESEARCH

The Airlines’ Point of View as a


New Approach to Measuring the
Quality of Service at Airports
This article is to provide airport professionals and
those who do not have experience in the field of
service quality at airports with information on a new
approach to measuring quality from the airlines’
point of view. This is an entirely new approach
because approaches thus far have been from the
customers’ point of view. This new approach has
been tested at Bratislava Airport in Slovakia. Full
research results will be published at a later time.
Part of the information used in this article has been
provided by the University of Zilina. Other important
information has been obtained through representa-
Courtesy Milan Rastislav Štefánik Bratislava Airport.
tives of the Bratislava Airport, Air Slovakia, Air
Traffic Services of Slovakia, Czech Airlines, Sky Europe Airlines, and the former Slovak Airlines.

By Benedikt Badanik

Customers of airports can be divided into mail, including all clearance and handling Example of objective service quality crite-
five main groups: 1) airlines; 2) passengers; processes. One of the facets of facilitation is ria. Item: Aircraft turn-around process.
3) concessionaires; 4) visitors, personnel, the quality of service. In order to satisfy the Example of subjective service quality crite-
and 5) non-travellers [1]. Passengers make airport’s customers, it is important to pro- ria:
up the largest group of all, but airlines some- vide the best service possible, according to
times consider them as their customers, and customer needs. And in order to verify that Item: Overall customer satisfaction at the
are therefore only considered as indirect the desired service quality has been airport/overall attractiveness/convenience
customers of the airport. But the airlines can achieved, it needs to be measured, evaluat- of airport/overall quality of service Based
be considered as the primary customer of ed and also anticipated. upon ACI quality of service survey (realized
the airport: the major facilities (runways, by ACI world headquarters Geneva –
taxiways, apron, terminal facilities…) have ACI quality of service survey uses two Switzerland in 1998), 95 percent of objec-
been built to be used by the airlines. They kinds of measurement with regard to quali- tive criteria and more than 99 percent of
pay for the services provided. They also use ty of service. Objective measurement, subjective criteria used to measure quality
and pay for the office space and technical which is provided by the measurement of of service at airports worldwide is related to
facilities required for their staff and opera- defined criteria, with indicators that help to passengers.
tions. achieve objective measurements (an objec-
tive criterion is one that is measured objec- There are only a few services (related to air-
Therefore, the aim of the article is to intro- tively, e.g. a time measurement) and subjec- lines) that are used as criteria for measuring
duce a new point of view; the airline’s point tive measurements, which depends on the quality. These services can be the following:
of view as a new approach to measuring the subjective value attributed to quality of serv-  offices and desks (or generally surface
quality of service at airports. ice by passengers (given by surveys, com- areas)
ment cards, or complaints) [1].  terminal resources: check-in desks and
Current Approach to Measuring baggage belts, gate allocation (aircraft
Service Quality at Airports: stands: at contact or remote)
Passenger’ Point of View
An airport is perceived as a key point in the  information technologies and telecom-
air transport system. The efficiency and munications
speed of airport processes are critical. This  ground-handling services
is usually summed up with the term ’facili-  movement areas (runways and apron
Figure. 1: Specific areas of research (related
tation’, i.e. providing free and unimpeded to quality of service from airlines’ point of areas)
passage to aircraft, passengers, freight and view)  technical facilities and services

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 signage and guidance, and way-finding
 announcements
 information (including flight information)
 comfort (architecture, volumes, temper-
ature, visual environment, smoking areas)
 provision of washrooms and toilets
 cleanliness
 staff courtesy, empathy, contact, accura-
cy (appropriate staff) and efficiency capacity
 “walking” times (connecting flight flow,
embarkation or disembarkation flow)
 availability of lifts, escalators, moving
walkways, people-movers, etc.
 provision for the disabled
 special services (business lounge, VIP,
facilities for religious observance, emer-
gency medical services, etc.) Figure 3: Level of satisfaction with the quality of service at Airport Bratislava (mea-
sured by pilots)
As indicated before, most of the airports Air Slovakia. Fourteen questionnaires had
around the world currently apply a passen- to be rejected due to incompleteness or dis-
ger approach when measuring service qual- crepancies.
ity. This article, however, deals with a new
approach to measuring quality of service, Different pilots (flying for various airlines)
which is from the airlines’ point of view. measure the quality of service at Airport
We were not able to define proper objective Bratislava differently. Figure 3 shows sig-
criteria for all the partners. That is why there nificant difference between their evalua-
New Approach to Measuring Service are only subjective criteria used in the ques-
Quality at Airports: Airlines’ Point of tions. The level of pilots’ satisfaction with
tionnaire. the services ranged from 1.8 to 3.6.
View
The new approach means that data related According to figure 4, visual impression of
to service quality at airports will not be
Quality of Service at Airport Airport Bratislava obtained the highest
obtained from passengers, but from pilots –
Bratislava Research Facts and Figures quality marks, whereas the staff’s knowl-
Quality of service at Airport Bratislava was edge of English was rated as insufficient.
first representatives of airlines. Due to the measured by 56 pilots. Their ages ranged
fact that the previous list of services does not from 23 to 58 years and the number of their
include the areas of services, quality of Independence
individual total flight hours ranged from Regarding Age of Pilots and Security
which can easily be measured (subjectively) 500 to 20,000. These pilots represented
by pilots, it is needed to specify those areas Service at Airport Bratislava
three of the five biggest airlines (according At the start of this survey, we suspected that
(see Fig.1). Service quality at airports will to number of passengers transported in
be measured from the airlines’ point of the oldest pilots (between 50 and 58 years of
2006 and first quarter of 2007) at Airport age in our case) were stricter in terms of
view. This part of the research has been con- Bratislava (as shown in the Fig. 5) – Sky
ducted with support from several research measuring quality of security service at
Europe Airlines, former Slovak Airlines and Airport Bratislava. We decided to test this
partners: Airport Bratislava, Air Slovakia,
Air Traffic Services of the Slovak Republic,
Czech Airlines, Sky Europe Airlines and
former Slovak Airlines.

Questionnaire Draft
First, the areas of research (related to meas-
uring service quality at airports from the air-
lines’ point of view) have been selected.
Then, a draft questionnaire related to these
specific areas was set up (Fig. 2 below). A
simple questionnaire is the best way of col-
lecting data. Its main advantage compared
to other ways of collecting data is its trans-
parency. This feature makes it possible that
the collected data can be used more easily in
the future. Next, four levels of satisfaction
(quality marks) with quality of service have
been determined.
Figure 4: Best and worst service at Airport Bratislava according to pilots’ measurement

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theory before we would decide whether to significance. Age of pilots and their answers
take their answers into account or not. We are thus independent.
wished to test the null hypothesis that the
age of pilots and their answers were inde- Conclusions
pendent [5]. The results of this survey are The fast growth of passengers transported
given in table 1. For example, a total of 3 that is presently seen at Airport Bratislava
pilots have measured security as very poor, puts it into a stronger position on the ’small
out of a grand total of 42 pilots included in regional airports’ market in Europe.
the survey. On the other hand, a total of 3 Average growth of passengers transported
pilots have measured security as very good. is more than 30 percent annually. Airport
Bratislava will therefore face increasing
We also needed to decide what the value in demand for quality of service in the near
each cell would have been, if the null future. More low-cost carriers will consider
hypothesis had been true, i.e. if there had Airport Bratislava as a great hub and gate to
been no relationship between the pilots’ Eastern Europe.
answers and their age. We have calculated Figure 5: Percentage share of total PAX
these values from the marginal totals of If Airport Bratislava wants to remain attrac- transported at Airport Bratislava (2006, first
table 1, to give a proportional distribution of tive for low-cost carriers, it will need to quarter 2007, 2, 3 million. PAX)
values throughout the table. These expected improve most of its services and first of all, FORUM 2nd. WINTER SERVICE WORK-
values can be found in the contingency table 2. its security and safety (as research results SHOP PAPER, Budapest 1993
show). Quality of service needs to be meas- [4] BADÁNIK, Benedikt: Aspekty
If, say, the 3 oldest pilots (between 50 to 58 ured periodically. The focal point needs to kvality v prevádzke letísk, Písomná práca k diz-
years of age in our case) were no stricter or be the airlines’ needs and expectations. ertačnej skúške Žilinská univerzita v Žiline, f
less strict than the other younger pilots, we PEDaS KLD. Zilina 2002
[5] COOK, Andrew: Marketing &
would expect the number of the oldest pilots The methodology described should be the
Market Research for Air Transport, Workshop,
with the answer “very poor” to be 0.21. The handbook to perform measuring service at 28 February 2007, University of Westminster,
test statistic we need to calculate for this Airport Bratislava for more airlines. London, United Kingdom, 5. Example case
problem is the chi-square value. First, calcu- According to that methodology, compari- studies
lation of the expected value of each cell was son between Airport Bratislava and similar [6] DOGANIS, Rigs: The airport busi-
made (Tab. 2), then the squared differences airports would be recommended. ness., 1992, ISBN 0-415-08117-3
between the observed and expected values [7] FRANCIS, Graham,
were added up and divided by the expected References HUMPHREYS, Ian, FRY, Jackie: An interna-
value, for each cell. According to this [1] ACI Airports Council International: tional survey of the nature and prevalence of
Quality of service at airports: Standards & meas- quality management systems in airports ISSN
methodology, chi-square value is
urements, First edition – 2000, Published by ACI 1478-3363, 2003
= 3.816. The number of degrees of freedom [8] GRAHAM, Anne: Managing
associated with a given contingency table World Headquarters Geneva – Switzerland
[2] ASHFORD, Norman, STANTON, Airports. An International perspective, Chapter
(Tab. 2) is given by: v=(4-1)•(4-1)=9 . Martin P H, MOORE, A Clifton: Airport opera- IV – Service quality and its measurement. 1. Title
ISBN 0 7506 4823 6
From tables, the critical value of for tions, Loughborough, Leicestershire
Crowthorne, Berks Llano, California 1983, [9] GRAHAM, Anne: Managing
nine degrees of freedom is: Airports. An International perspective, Chapter
= 19. Chi-square value we have calculated ISBN 0 273 03229 1
[3] AZZOLINI, Cesare: Can Quality V – The airport-airline relationship. 1. Title ISBN
is smaller than 19. That is why we accept 0 7506 4823 6
and Profitability Go Hand In Hand? Airports
the null hypothesis at the 5 percent level of Council International 1st. CIVIL AVIATION [10] HEINZELMANN, Utz: Can Quality
and Profitability Go Hand In Hand? Airports
Council International 1st. CIVIL AVIATION
FORUM 2nd. WINTER SERVICE WORK-
SHOP PAPER, Budapest 1993
[11] IVANCEVICH, John M., LOREN-
ZI, Peter, SKINNER, Steven J. with CROSBY,
Philip B.: Management quality and competitive-
ness, III. Title ISBN 0-256-12453-1, 1994

Table 1: Results of the survey About the Author


Benedikt Badanik was a Member of the Slovak
Airport Authority Task Force, responsible for
Operational Transformation of Airport Zilina
(2004) and CEO of Airport Zilina (2005). He
holds an MSc. Degree in Air Transport and a
PhD. Degree in Airport Operation. His main
research interests concern surveys on quality of
service at airports, airport operation and airline
marketing practices. He has published in air
Table 2: Contingency table transport journals and conference proceedings.

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Figure 2: Quality of service measuring questionnaire

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