The 2019 list of the world’s best airlines is out, and topping the rankings is Asian carrier Singapore Airlines. The much-awaited annual Airline Excellence Awards comes courtesy of AirlineRatings.com, which is an aviation safety- and product-rating site based out of Perth, Australia.
While Air New Zealand has claimed the top spot for the past five years, change is afoot for 2019. Singapore Airlines, last year’s third-place carrier, unseated the reigning champion as well as other list stalwarts like Qantas. Doha-based Qatar Airways, which did not make last year’s top 10, earned the number four spot thanks to its catering and the introduction of its industry-leading business-class QSuites.
How does AirlineRatings.com go about determining the rankings? Seven editors at the agency consider a dozen key factors including operational safety, passenger reviews, profitability, investment rating, fleet age, product offerings such as premium economy on long-haul flights and seating options in other classes.
No wonder, then, that Singapore jumped to the top spot in the rankings. The airline is in the midst of a dramatic fleet revitalization, with the introduction of Airbus A350s and Boeing 787-10s and the launch of major new long-haul routes such as Singapore to Newark and Los Angeles, both of which took place within the last month or so. The airline is also in the midst of delivery of its order of new Airbus A380s, on which passengers will find its latest business-class seats and its much-lauded new first-class suites.
AirlineRatings.com editor-in-chief, Geoffrey Thomas said, “One of the standouts in the industry for decades, [Singapore Airlines] has returned to its best with a new product, new aircraft and new innovative flights such as the Singapore-New York non-stop. Quite simply, the airline is the gold standard.”
You can find all the rankings here, but this is the complete list of AirlineRatings.com’s top 10 airlines in the world for 2019.
Among the new entrants on this year’s list are Dubai-based Emirates and EVA Air from Taiwan. Airlines that appeared on last year’s list but did not make this one include Virgin Atlantic, Etihad and Korean Air.
As was the case last year, not a single airline from Europe or the Americas made the overall top 10 list. That is something of a surprise considering Delta, like Qatar Airways, introduced a new all-suites business class last year. Also like previous years, the rankings are significantly skewed toward the Asia-Pacific region. This should not be a surprise considering the massive growth of aviation in that part of the world, which is only projected to continue increasing in the coming decades.
AirlineRatings.com also picks winners in over a dozen specific categories. Here are those results:
Best First Class: Singapore Airlines thanks to the new first class suites Singapore Airlines unveiled last year.
Best Business Class: Qatar Airways. “The airline’s QSuite is a first-class experience in business class,” said Thomas. “It sets a standard to which some airlines can only aspire.”
Best Premium Economy: Air New Zealand won this thanks to its spacious seats, premium touches and expanding route network.
Best Economy: Korean Air took the top award in this category again this year thanks to seats that are among the roomiest in the industry.
Best Cabin Crew: Virgin Australia beat out Singapore Airlines this year.
Best Catering: Qatar Airways unseated Qantas for this accolade in 2019.
Best Lounges: Qantas Airways remains the champ in this category. “The judges were unanimous on the airline’s lounges, which are exceptional,” said Thomas.
Best In-Flight Entertainment: Emirates won this category again as one of the pioneers of in-flight entertainment.
Regional Airline of the Year: QantasLink picked up this award thanks to its services to remote and challenging operating environments.
Most Improved Airline: Philippine Airlines won, explained Thomas, thanks to, “A move to expand its global footprint using a new generation of fuel-efficient aircraft equipped with the latest cabins.”
Best Ultra-Low-Cost Carrier: Quickly growing VietJet out of Vietnam earned this prize for the second year in a row.
Best Long-Haul Airline: AirlineRatings.com breaks this category down by region in the following way: Emirates (Middle East), EVA Air (Asia-Pacific), Lufthansa (Europe) and Delta (Americas).
Best Low-Cost Airline: Also ranked by region, the winners here were: Westjet (Americas), AirAsia/AirAsia X (Asia-Pacific) and Wizz (Europe).
As with any rankings system, the importance of this one to most fliers will depend more on the carriers operating in their home region and their own flying habits. For a more general overview of the aviation industry and the top players, check out rankings from other major publications, including Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure and SkyTrax.
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