Qatar Airways was recently named Airline of the Year 2021 in the latest Skytrax awards, pipping Singapore Airlines and ANA All Nippon Airways which were second and third respectively.
It was the sixth year Qatar Airways had taken out the top gong in the awards following wins in 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017 and 2019.
With the 2020 World Airline Awards canned due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the results were amassed over an unusually long 23 month period, from September 2019 through to July 2021.
Evaluating the Top 20 airlines, there were some up and down movements versus 2019 results, although a core of airlines still dominate these higher positions.
While the Top 3 remained unchanged since the last results, some of the big jumpers in the Top 10 included Japan Airlines in 5th (was 11th in 2019) and Air France in 10th (was 23rd). Emirates moved up one spot to 4th, while Cathay Pacific Airways (6th), EVA Air (7th) and Hainan Airlines (9th) all took a backwards step. Qantas was stable, holding onto 8th spot.
For Qatar Airways, the win supports the recent accolades for its hub, Hamad International Airport, Doha, which was named the world’s best a few months ago. That decision itself follows an upward trend in rankings for Hamad, which opened in 2014. The Gulf airport was ranked 3rd in 2020 and 2019, 4th in 2018 and 5th in 2017.
Speaking on the latest announcement of Airline of the Year recognition, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, said: “This award is the result of the incredible work by the Qatar Airways team and I want to thank our valued passengers for their loyalty and appreciation for all we have offered during the most challenging and uncertain times, without compromising on the service and excellence that the airline is renowned for throughout the world.
“We never abandoned our loyal customers when they needed us the most, we continued flying to get people home and implemented stringent biosafety measures to provide strong reassurance for travellers, all while continuing to innovate to ensure we remain the airline of choice for millions of passengers across the globe.
“Being named the ‘World’s Best Airline’ for an unprecedented sixth time is an enormous achievement, and provides our passengers with even greater confidence that they can travel with Qatar Airways as the first global airline to achieve the Skytrax COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating, while transiting through Hamad International Airport, the Skytrax ‘World’s Best Airport’ for 2021.”
QR also received the awards for the World’s Best Business Class, the World’s Best Business Class Seat and the Best Airline in the Middle East.
In second place, Singapore Airlines also took out the top accolade for the World’s Best Cabin Crew, and was honoured with awards for the World’s Best First Class, the Best Airline in Asia and the World’s Best First Class Seat.
ANA All Nippon Airways maintained its No 3 global ranking, and repeats its earlier success by winning the World’s Best Airport Services award.
Saudi Arabian Airlines won the 2021 award as the World’s Most Improved Airline, ahead of Rwandair in 2nd place and JetSmart in 3rd position.
Edward Plaisted of Skytrax said: “To be named the World’s Best Airline 2021 is a great recognition of Qatar Airways high standards, and to win this highest accolade for a sixth time is a remarkable achievement. We congratulate Qatar Airways for this unique success.
“Voted by customers, the focus of our annual survey is for travellers to make their own, personal choices as to which airline they consider to be best, and it is clear that Qatar Airways has maintained its high standards of innovation and service standards, both in more normal times and through the current global pandemic.”
For those travel advisors with clients who demand state-of-the-art and industry-leading inflight entertaiment, Emirates won Best Airline Inflight Entertainment 2021 for its brilliant i.c.e. system. The rest of the Top 5 in this category, in order, were Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic.
As mentioned previously, Singapore Airlines scored World’s Best First Class Airline 2021. Behind SQ was Lufthansa, Emirates, ANA All Nippon Airways and Air France.
Best First Class Airline Lounge went to Lufthansa (at Frankfurt Airport), then Qatar Airways (Hamad International Airport, Doha), Swiss International Air Lines (Zurich), Air France (Charles de Gaulle, Paris) and ANA All Nippon Airways (Tokyo Haneda).
After Singapore Airlines in the Best First Class Airline Seats 2021 category was Emirates, ANA All Nippon Airways, Air France and Etihad.
Best First Class Onboard Catering 2021 went to Lufthansa, followed by Air France, ANA All Nippon Airways, Singapore Airlines and Emirates.