Qatar Airways has regained the top spot in the Skytrax World’s Best Airline rankings, after slipping to second place last year.
The coveted award comes at a difficult time for the airline, which is having to deal with the fallout of a blockade enforced by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt.
In a statement, Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker said:
“At these difficult times of illegal bans on flights out of my country by big bullies, this is an award not to me, not to my airline, but to my country.”
As well as winning best airline this year, Qatar Airways also took several other Skytrax awards. These included Best Airline in the Middle East, World’s Best Business Class and the World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge.
However, it didn’t retain two of the other titles it won last year – Best Business Class Airline Lounge and Best Airline Staff in the Middle East.
World’s top 10
While Qatar Airways regained the top spot, last year’s winner, Emirates, fell to fourth place this year.
Qatar Airways’ other main regional rival Etihad is in eighth place this year, down from sixth in 2016.
Here’s how the top ten looks:
- Qatar Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- ANA All Nippon Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- EVA Air
- Etihad Airways
- Hainan Airlines
- Garuda Indonesia
To decide this year’s winner, Skytrax analyzed 19.87 million survey entries from the website www.worldairlinesurvey.com.
Surveys were filled out by people of 105 nationalities in English, Spanish and Chinese, and submitted from August 2016 until May 2017.
Travelers were polled on 49 performance indicators, including customer satisfaction with check-in, boarding, seat comfort, cabin cleanliness, food, beverages and staff services.
In 2014, Etihad asked to withdraw from the Skytrax rankings over concerns about its methodology.
However, the organization insists on its website that it works on a not-for-profit basis and that it applies “rigorous” monitoring during its survey process.
“The integrity and reputation of the Skytrax Passenger’s Choice Awards relies on the ability to maintain transparency across all areas of the survey and awards format,” it said.
Despite Qatar Airways’ recent woes as a result of restricted airspace and a boycott of many regional routes, it is still forging ahead with its ambitious plans for growth.
These include the launch of a major revamp of its Business Class product, the so-called “QSuite.”
The first of the airline’s aircraft to be fitted with the seats, a Boeing 777, is currently on show at Le Bourget in Paris.
It will take to the skies with passengers on the Doha to London Heathrow route on June 24.