Qantas has again dropped out of the world’s top 10 airlines, while Cathay Pacific has been named the world’s best carrier in the annual World Airline Awards.
Cathay Pacific climbed from sixth place last year to displace 2013’s top airline, Qatar Airways.
Announced at the Farnborough International Air Show in the UK, the World Airline Awards, run by research firm Skytrax, are one of the most high-profile in the aviation industry.
Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Ivan Chu said that he was “extremely proud, for both Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong” to receive the award.
Cathay becomes the first airline to win the award four times, having previously taken the title in 2003, 2005 and 2009. The airline has spent $HK4.9 billion ($A670 million) revamping its aircraft cabins over the past four years.
Asian and Middle Eastern airlines dominated the top 10 as always, but two European airlines also made the list, with Turkish Airlines climbing to number 5 from number 9 last year, and German carrier Lufthansa rounding out the top 10.
Qantas meanwhile, dropped back to 11th place from 10th last year. This is the second time Qantas has fallen outside the top 10, falling back to 15th place in 2012. The airline peaked in 2008, when it was ranked the 3rd best in the world.
There was better news for Qantas in the awards by region, where it was named the best airline in the Australia/Pacific category, ahead of Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand and Jetstar.
Qantas executive Olivia Wirth said the regional win was especially satisfying given the level of competition.
Garuda Indonesia took out the award for the best cabin crew, ahead of Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines.
Singapore Airlines won the award for best first class cabin, Qatar for best business class and Korea’s Asiana for best economy class cabin.
Among budget airlines, AirAsia and offshoot AirAsia X took out the top two spots, with Jetstar ranked fourth best.
The Skytrax awards are based on a survey of 18.85 million airline passengers from around the world.
Passengers from more than 160 countries participated in the latest survey, which covered 245 airlines worldwide.
The awards are not without controversy. Last month, Etihad Airways announced it would withdraw from the awards, citing unhappiness with Skytrax’s rating system.
However, the airline still ranked 9th in this year’s results, after Skytrax declared that an airline could not withdraw from the rankings as the results were decided by customers.
“An airline cannot be withdrawn from the World Airline Awards, since these results are directly decided by customers. Skytrax do not exercise control over which airlines are nominated in the survey ratings, and to subsequently try and conceal the results of a public vote would be unacceptable,” Skytrax said in a statement.
World’s top 10 airlines
1. Cathay Pacific Airways (Flight test review)
2. Qatar Airways (Flight test)
3. Singapore Airlines (Flight test)
4. Emirates (Flight test)
5. Turkish Airlines
6. ANA All Nippon Airways
7. Garuda Indonesia (Flight test)
8. Asiana Airlines
9. Etihad Airways (Flight test)
Best inflight entertainment
2. Singapore Airlines
3. Turkish Airlines
4. Qantas (Flight test)
5. Cathay Pacific Airways
6. Virgin Atlantic
7. Qatar Airways
8. Air New Zealand (Flight test)
9. Virgin Australia (Flight test)
10. Etihad Airways
Best cabin crew
1. Garuda Indonesia
2. Cathay Pacific
3. Singapore Airlines
4. Asiana Airlines
5. Malaysia Airlines (Flight test)
6. Qatar Airways
7. EVA Air
8. ANA All Nippon Airways
9. Thai Airways (Flight test)
10. Hainan Airlines.
LONDON, 16 JULY 2014 (SMH)