Air NZ takes the crown

Air New Zealand has knocked Singapore Airlines off its perch as airline of the year in this year’s coveted awards.

The Kiwi airline nudged out last year’s winner and is being honoured for the sixth time for its record-breaking performance, multi-award-winning in-flight innovations, operational safety, environmental leadership and motivation of its staff.

The Airline Excellence Awards, judged by seven editors with more than 200 years’ industry experience, combines major safety and government audits, with 12 key criteria including fleet age, passenger reviews, profitability, investment rating, product offerings and staff relations.

air new zealand aircraft wing tip

By those standards, Air New Zealand was declared industry leader.

“In our analysis, Air New Zealand came out number one in most of our audit criteria, which is an outstanding performance when it’s up against carriers with more resources and scale on this same list of best airlines for 2020,” said Airline Ratings editor-in-chief Geoffrey Thomas.

“Air New Zealand’s commitment to excellence in all facets of its business starts at the top with outstanding governance and one of the best executive teams in aviation through to a workforce that is delivering consistently to the airline’s strategy and customer promise.”

Air New Zealand acting CEO Jeff McDowall said winning the award for the sixth time was a testament to the efforts of the airline’s 12,500 staff who were focused on delivering a world-class uniquely Kiwi experience to its customers every day. Air New Zealand also took out the award for best premium economy.

Singapore Airlines did not go home empty handed, winning the prestigious first class award for its impressive Suites product.

Qantas took home best domestic service and best lounges, and Virgin Australia won best economy class for its spacious cabin layout.

“Qantas’ customer approval rating is at an all-time high, and it continues to innovate with lie-flat beds being added to its A380s,” said Mr Thomas.

“The judges were unanimous on the airline’s lounges which are exceptional and its domestic airline product, particularly on transcontinental A330 flights, is a standout.”

Virgin Australia’s extremely spacious cabins set it apart from many airlines, offering passengers the most spacious 777 cabins and across its international and domestic fleet.

Virgin Australia was also voted best cabin crew and received a top 10 overall ranking.

“Virgin Australia has redefined the travel experience with its economy X, premium economy, and standout business class. Add to that its cabin crew, which are the world’s best, and you have another airline punching well above its weight,” said Mr Thomas.

The full list of winners are:

Best premium economy – Air New Zealand

First class award – Singapore Airlines

Best catering – Qatar

Best business class – Qatar

Best domestic services – Qantas

Best lounges – Qantas

Best economy – Virgin Australia

Best cabin crew – Virgin Australia

Best inflight entertainment – Emirates

Best long-haul Middle East – Emirates

Most improved airline – Cebu Pacific

Best ultra-low-cost airline – VietJetAir

Excellence in long haul travel – Delta Airlines (Americas), Lufthansa (Europe), Emirates (Middle East), Cathay Pacific (Asia)

Best low-cost airline – JetBlue (Americas), Wizz (Europe) and AirAsia/AirAsia X (Asia/Pacific) and Air Arabia (Middle-East/Africa)

And the top 20 round-up winners are:

  1. Air New Zealand
  2. Singapore Airlines
  3. All Nippon Airways
  4. Qantas
  5. Cathay Pacific Airways
  6. Emirates
  7. Virgin Atlantic
  8. EVA Air
  9. Qatar Airways
  10. Virgin Australia
  11. Lufthansa
  12. Finnair
  13. Japan Airlines
  14. KLM
  15. Korean Airlines
  16. Hawaiian Airlines
  17. British Airways
  18. Alaska Airlines
  19. Delta Air Lines
  20. Etihad Airways

Have you flown with Air New Zealand? Would you rate it as the world’s best airline?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.


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