Further public humiliation for Qantas as its world ranking slides

Qantas has taken another public blow with the announcement of the world’s best airline rankings. 

International air transport rating company Skytrax has announced the world’s best airlines of 2024, and Qantas did not come out of it covered in glory.

The winner was Qatar national carrier Qatar Airways, and Australia’s Qantas has once again slid down the rankings to 24th from 17th last year. It’s another astounding humiliation for the airline, which was rated fifth best in the world as recently as 2022 and second best airline in the world in 2005 and 2006. 

Publicity woes

Qantas has been plagued with bad publicity and legal woes including:

  • found guilty of illegally sacking 1700 workers during the pandemic, with workers seeking millions in compensation
  • retrenched or stood down almost 10,000 workers during the pandemic while also accepting $1.7 billion in COVID subsidies and posting a record profit
  • agreeing to $120 million in refunds for customers who paid for ‘ghost flights’ that were cancelled or never existed
  • fined $250,000 for sacking a worker who raised safety issues during the pandemic 
  • paid the chief executive overseeing many of these decisions a multimillion-dollar salary including 21.4 million in his last year on the job alone. 

In response shareholders rebelled against the airline’s management, dishing out at that time the second biggest protest vote in Australian corporate history, with more than 80 per cent of investors voting down its executive pay plan in 2023. 

New chief executive Vanessa Hudson issued an apology to passengers after she took over in 2023, but the company still has a long way to go.

“I know that we have let you down in many ways, and for that I am sorry,” she said.

“We understand we need to earn your trust back, not with what we say but what we do and how we behave.

“This is going to take time and I ask for your patience.”

Underwhelming response

Qantas has since improved its rewards program by creating an extra 20 million rewards seats, a move that aviation expert Matt Graham described in The Guardian as underwhelming. 

“Qantas had to do something because there have been a lot of complaints that people have a lot of points that they can’t use,” he said. 

The airline has also tweaked its inflight menus to a muted reception. 

In an analysis in The Age, former pilot David Evans said Qantas could previously rely on its impeccable safety record and service standards to shore up its international reputation. However, as technology improved, other airlines’ safety standards caught up and combined with Qantas’ cutbacks to passenger amenities, they began to slip behind.

Mr Evans said the Skytrax results would “sound alarms” at the board level. 

It’s not all bad news. Qantas was named as having the best business class, best premium economy and the cleanest airline in the regional rankings. But then again, that’s competing against relative minnows such as Fiji Air and Air Tahiti. For the record, Fiji Airways was the best Australia/Pacific region airline, followed by Air New Zealand and then Qantas.  

The Skytrax awards are known as the Oscars of the industry. Rounding out the top five best airlines were Singapore Airlines, Emirates, ANA All Nippon Airways and Cathay Pacific Airways. Qatar was ranked No. 2 world airline last year, with Singapore Airlines in top place.  

What do you think Qantas should do to improve its reputation? Why not share your opinion in the comments section below?

Also read: Eight ways you can void your travel insurance

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


  1. I agree Qantas has to improve things, but most airlines do. There are stories about all airlines and their staff plus plane hygiene and maintenence. I’ve flown with Qantas internationally and domestically during the last 12 months and have been pleasantly surprised by how good the flights were and flight crew were always very pleasant and helpful. Ground staff sometimes need to be a little bit more pleasant and forthcoming, but if you continually deal with some very stupid and angry people every shift I suppose I’d be a little bit more withdrawn and aloof also. I’ll fly with them again, just like I’m flying Singapore Airlines later this year so can compare.

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