Malta International Airport (MIA) is disappointed with the score the hub received at AirHelp’s survey, ranking MIA among the worst airports, according to a statement sent to Business Malta. MIA says that AirHelp score is heavily “on-time performance” biased, which factor is out of the airport’s reach. Answering BM’s enquiry, AirHelp clarifies its scoring system by explaining its underlying rationale.

“For the sake of clarity, AirHelp is an air passenger rights specialist, which aids travellers in getting compensation from airlines following a disrupted flight. Their score considers the following factors in assessing an airport’s performance: On-time Performance (weighing 60%), Service Quality (weighing 20%) and Food and Shops (weighing 20%),” the statement MIA sent on BM’s query to comment on AirHelp’s finding starts.

“Unfortunately, MIA’s ranking was significantly affected by its score for ‘On-Time Performance’. While we acknowledge that flight disruptions do negatively affect the overall travel experience, the most common causes of disruption (including weather, strikes, technical issues, and the domino effect these create) are largely outside Malta International Airport’s control and are a frequent occurrence which every airport actively works to mitigate in its day-to-day operations,” the MIA statement says.

Malta International Airport received an average AirHelp score of 6.05 out of 10 maximum, according to the latest findings of AirHelp. MIA received a score of 5 on “on-time performance”, a score of 7.7 on “service quality” and a score of 7.5 on “food and shops”. The full methodology of their scoring is available for public view. Out of 132 airports the organisation includes on its list, the Maltese airport scored as the 128th.

“As a company, our key focus is on driving service quality within the terminal and on the improvement of our facilities on the ground. These efforts have been consistently recognised by more than one certified airport ranking authority over the years, whose data is collected, qualified and audited by passengers who have visited Malta International Airport,” the MIA statement says.

“In fact, MIA has featured among the top five airports within its category of the Airports Council International’s Airport Service Quality Survey for the last ten years, having received the coveted ‘Best Airport in Europe’ award in 2018,” the statement concludes.

Recently, MIA was listed among the top ten airports worldwide in 2019 by Skytrax in its size category, being the only airport from the European Union that made to the list. MIA was also named among the winners of Airport Council International’s Airport Service Quality (ASQ) awards by receiving the title “Best Airport in Europe” in its size category in 2018.

On-time performance of elevated importance

MIA’s overall score was dragged down by to the “on-time performance” factor, which weighs 60% of all for a reason, according to a statement sent to Business Malta by AirHelp when asked to elaborate on the ratios.

“In this case, the Malta International Airport’s score seems to have been affected by on-time performance. The reason why this variable carries a slightly larger weight than the others is because we have found that on-time performance is the variable passengers care about the most. It is good to see if passengers can enjoy good services and sufficient shopping options at the airport; however, the most important function of the airport is to serve passengers’ travelling needs,” Ariel Wu, Junior Communications Coordinator at AirHelp says in the statement.

AirHelp says it agrees with MIA that on-time performance is not solely the airport’s responsibility, however, AirHelp stresses that airports can have a very large impact. “In addition, passengers have the right to be aware of what their experience at the airport will be — not only in terms of their shopping and eating options but also whether they can expect to be on time, which is what they care about the most,” Ms Wu tells BM.

While AirHelp regrets the disappointment of the Maltese hub, they acknowledge the good scores the airport received on the other two variables. “We are very sorry to learn that MIA is disappointed with the result, but we hope that airports can use the AirHelp Score as a tool to better understand their travellers’ pain points. Similarly to airports, we want passengers to get the best experience possible — both in the air and on the ground. At the same time, we are glad to see MIA scored well with good services and shopping options. We look forward to MIA’s improvement of on-time performance as well as the ranking next year,” the communications coordinator adds.

EDITORIAL NOTE: Business Malta reached out to AirHelp to understand the rationale behind the gravity of their on-time performance variable. The present story was updated with AirHelp’s insight on Friday, 17 May 2019.