Travellers’ level of satisfaction with the quality of services at Harare International Airport
Although Zimbabwe’s tourism suffered a dramatic downward trend between 2000 and 2010, the establishment of the government of national unity brought a positive upturn in tourist arrivals. However, the growth of tourism is still below its expected potential. Whilst a number of factors militating against the full realization of the country’s tourism potential have been identified, the influence of the quality of service delivery has not been analyzed. This study, therefore, purports to specifically assess how travellers rated the quality of service delivery at Harare International Airport. In this pursuit, the objectives of the study are to (1) ascertain the profile of passengers travelling through Harare International Airport, (2) determine the quality of airport services from the passengers’ perspective and (3) identify aspects of service delivery that need to be improved. This study adopted a quantitative approach and made use of questionnaires administered to 410 passengers departing from the Harare International Airport between December 2013 and January 2014. Drawing from the SERVQUAL model the study focused on 5 dimensions, namely, reliability, assurance, tangibility, empathy and responsiveness. Analysis of the typically numeric data was essentially done through SPSS and reveals at developed countries dominate international arrivals travelling to Zimbabwe by air. In this regard, Europe is the key source market for Zimbabwean tourism, whilst South Africa stands out as the dominant market for travellers from within the African continent. The study reveals that the greatest number of respondents (88%) has, over the last twelve months, travelled more than once through Harare International Airport. Travellers on holiday dominate the tourist market followed by business and educational travellers respectively. South African Airways, BA Comair, Kenya Airways and Emirates are the most travelled on airlines to Harare, with South African Airways having the largest market share of international travellers. Considerable gaps exist between expectations and perceptions. Although rated as above average, service quality across the five dimensions falls below passenger expectations. Of significance, the largest service quality gap relates to the lack of a variety of well-known retail outlets at the airport. It is, therefore, concluded that there is room for improvement in all aspects of service delivery at the airport. Whereas airport authorities should consider recommendations from the passengers to close the existing negative gaps, the dynamic nature of the aviation industry calls for the continuous assessment of service quality to ensure consistent satisfaction of airline passengers.
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