Australia’s national carrier, Qantas, has returned to the top 10 rankings for the first time in three years as the Skytrax World’s Best Airline awards were announced in Paris overnight.
Qatar Airways returned to the top spot in 2019 rankings for the fifth time, after being displaced by Singapore Airlines last year. The Gulf-based carrier also took out Best Business Class, the World’s Best Business Class Seat and Best Airline in the Middle East.
Second-placed Singapore Airlines was voted as having the World’s Best Cabin Crew and was judged to have the World’s Best First Class, the Best Airline in Asia and the World’s Best First Class Seat.
“The Flying Kangaroo”, which was in 11th place last year, jumped to eighth in the rankings in the passenger-judged awards after slipping to 15th spot in 2017.
After the 2018 awards, Airline Intelligence Research managing director and former Qantas chief economist Dr Tony Webber said Qantas needed to update its dwindling fleet of Boeing 747 aircraft if it wanted to woo back customers.
Dr Webber said Qantas’ Boeing 787 Dreamliner was slowly losing its appeal.
“Qantas has invested so much into its Dreamliners, but Singapore, Qatar and other airlines are still beating them with competitive pricing, comfort and upgraded in-flight technology,” he said.
The airline also needed to look at its current staffing situation, Dr Webber said.
“Compared to other airlines, the average age of Qantas’ crew is significantly higher. It would be good for them give younger people opportunities too,” he said.
Now in its 19th year, the World Airline Awards are based on a customer satisfaction survey of passengers from more than 100 nationalities and 21.65 million eligible entries, Skytrax said.
It measured more than 49 parameters spanning from boarding procedures to quality of service, to seat comfort. The online survey was open from September 2018 to May 2019.
Skytrax CEO Edward Plaisted acknowledged that not everyone would agree with the rankings’ assessment.
“We operate the survey and awards in a 100 per cent independent and impartial format according to the commitment we gave back in 1999,” Mr Plaisted said during the awards ceremony at the Paris Air Show.
“Whilst every winner may not be the favourite of everyone, those that disagree should understand that these are the Passenger’s Choice Awards,” he said.
Japan’s ANA All Nippon Airways was ranked third, ahead of Cathay Pacific, Emirates, EVA Air and China’s Hainan Airlines in seventh spot.
German carrier Lufthansa and Thai Airways rounded out the top 10.
Virgin Australia was ranked 25th, down from 22nd last year, with Qantas-owned budget carrier Jetstar dropping to 53rd from 46th. Air New Zealand was ranked 16th.
Jetstar was also named the sixth-best low cost airline, in a category won by AirAsia.
Reflecting the rise in popularity of premium economy travel in Australia, Qantas was named sixth-best Premium Economy Airline, with Virgin Australia at eighth. Qantas was judged to have the third-best Premium Economy seat.
Qantas this month announced it was pushing ahead with plans for non-stop flights from Sydney to London, asking manufacturers Airbus and Boeing to present their “best and final offer” by August for planes capable of the 21-hour trip.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said said Qantas was aiming for the planes to be delivered from late 2022, with the first Sydney-London flights likely in 2023.