Air NZ named the world's best airline

Photo of Geoffrey Thomas

New Zealand's national carrier was the major winner at the Airline Excellence Awards.

West Australian travellers are possibly the world’s most spoilt, with airlines serving Perth scooping most of the major awards in the annual Airline Excellence Awards, announced this week.

Air New Zealand, Qantas, Virgin Australia, Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways, Emirates, Scoot and Cathay Pacific Airways were all big winners.

Air New Zealand won Airline of the Year for the fourth consecutive year for its financial performance, in-flight innovations, operational safety, environmental leadership and staff motivation. These factors have stamped the airline as an industry trendsetter. editor and South-East Asian bureau chief Steve Creedy said: “In our objective analysis, Air New Zealand came out number one in virtually all of our audit criteria, which is an exceptional performance.”

The airline also won Best Premium Economy Class for the third time.

Air New Zealand has been a leader in the airline industry for years and has won many awards including Air Transport World’s Airline of the Year in 2010 and 2012.

“Quite simply, Air New Zealand is an airline of first choice. And given the airline’s location and the country’s size, its performance is even more remarkable,” Mr Creedy said.

Qantas, which is the world oldest continuously operating and most experienced airline, was also a big winner, picking up Best Catering, Best Lounges and Best Domestic Service. It came in at number two on the top 10.

For the third-year running, Qantas won Best Catering, on the back of the airline’s domestic offering. On international flights, the airline has introduced an unprecedented four choices of main meal for economy passengers, doubled meal sizes, and introduced the ability to order online ahead of the flight.

Another win for Qantas was the Best Lounges category. Not only do Qantas Lounges provide complimentary food and beverages, the airline was also a leader in installing showers.

The airline also won Best Domestic Service. In many cases, its in-flight product matches or exceeds international service: for example, unlike other domestic airlines across the globe, Qantas – and Virgin Australia – offer complimentary beer and wine between capital cities after 4pm on weekdays and on transcontinental flights from lunch time daily.

Virgin Australia, which is challenging Qantas at every opportunity, was also a big winner, taking out Best Business Class and Best Cabin Crew.

The Best Business Class win was a first for the airline and is a result of its new “The Business” suite, available on all the airline’s A330s and Boeing 777s. The major plus for this product is the bed, with its triple-layer seat cushion supported by a hammock sub-frame, almost guaranteeing perfect slumber. 

The airline also won Best Cabin Crew for the third year running.'s editors said Virgin Australia's cabin crew ‘’treat every passenger, whether in row one or at the back of the aircraft, as a special guest”.

Singapore Airlines, which is always in the winner’s circle, picked up Best Long Haul Airline Asia Pacific and Best Economy.  

The airline has always been a leader in the economy-class product, going back to the 1960s, when as Malaysia-Singapore Airlines it introduced free headsets and free drinks to economy passengers. In the early 1990s it introduced seat-back videos for economy passengers. It recently unveiled a new business class, along with premium economy.

Scoot, Singapore Airlines' low cost subsidiary, won Best Low Cost Airlines Asia.

Etihad Airways won Best First Class and Best Long Haul Carrier Middle East/Africa, while Emirates won Best In-Flight Entertainment.

In the global rankings, Air New Zealand was first, Qantas second, Singapore Airlines third, Cathay Pacific Airways fourth, Virgin Australia fifth, British Airways sixth and Etihad Airways seventh. Japan's All Nippon Airways, Taiwan's Eva Air and Germany's Lufthansa rounded out the top 10.

To be named in the top 10, airlines had to achieve a seven-star safety rating and demonstrate leadership in innovation for passenger comfort.

For the yearly ranking, the editors of combine four major international industry and government audits, with another nine key criteria including fleet age, passenger review ratings, profitability, investment rating and key product offerings to arrive at a ranking.

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Geoffrey Thomas is the founder and editor-in-chief of, which is a joint venture with The West Australian


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