South Korean carrier Asiana has topped the 2010 airline rankings survey conducted by Skytrax.
Runner-up was Singapore Airlines, with Qatar third. The annual rankings reflect a 10-month long study taking into account almost 18 million air travellers from 100 nationalities.
The study ran from July 2009 to April 2010. Skytrax is an independent airline quality monitoring organisation.
AirAsia was named the world’s best low cost airline for the second year in a row.
The biggest loser was Cathay Pacific, falling from first to fourth.
Australia’s Qantas continued its descent as passengers reacted to slipping customer service standards and aircraft reliability issues.
Three years ago it was ranked the world’s third best carrier, last year it fell to sixth and this year to seventh, two places behind Air New Zealand and one behind Etihad. It just beat Emirates. But Qantas did earn recognition for its premium economy cabin and premium economy seats.
Significantly, not one US carrier won any category in the Skytrax rankings - even the best North American airline title went to Air Canada, reflecting just how far behind international standards the world's larger, US airlines like United and American Airlines are performing.
Praising Asiana’s success, Skytrax chairman Edward Plaisted said the award was the result of its focus on customer service.
“Asiana Airlines is clearly meeting and exceeding their customers' expectations,” he said.
Tony Fernandes, AirAsia Group CEO, said Air Asia was proud to be recognised as the low cost leader for the second successive year.
“The Skytrax award is very special to us because it is voted on by passengers. It reaffirms once again that we are the People’s Champion.”
The full list is as follows:
1. Asiana Airlines
2. Singapore Airlines
3. Qatar Airways
4. Cathay Pacific
5. Air New Zealand
6. Etihad Airways
7. Qantas Airways
9. Thai Airways
10. Malaysia Airlines
A host of other awards were announced:
Best Low-Cost Airline Worldwide - AirAsia
Most Improved Airline - Garuda Indonesia
Best Cabin Staff - Singapore Airlines
Best Inflight Entertainment - Emirates
Best Airport Services - Thai Airways
Best Economy Class - Malaysia Airlines
Best Premium Economy Class - Qantas
Best Business Class - Qatar Airways
Best First Class - Etihad Airways
Best Airline: Transatlantic - Virgin Atlantic
Best Airline: Transpacific - Cathay Pacific
Best Airline: Australia/Pacific - Air New Zealand
Best Airline: Europe - Lufthansa
Best Airline: India/Central Asia - Kingfisher Airlines
Best Airline: Middle East - Qatar Airways
Best Airline: North America - Air Canada
Best Airline: South East Asia - Singapore Airlines
Best Airline Lounge - Business Class - Virgin Atlantic
Best Airline Lounge - First Class - Thai Airways
Best Airline Seat - Business Class - Singapore Airlines
Best Airline Seat - Economy Class - Kingfisher Airlines
Best Airline Seat - First Class - Etihad Airways
Best Airline Seat - Premium Economy Class - Qantas Airways
Best Low-Cost Airline Australia/Pacific - Virgin Blue
Best Onboard Catering - Business Class - Qatar Airways
Best Onboard Catering - Economy Class - Turkish Airlines
Best Onboard Catering - First Class - Etihad Airways
Best Airline Alliance - oneworld
The honour is another feather in the cap for the Malaysian-based carrier, which took out the prestigious title in 2009. Last October, AirAsia and AirAsia X were also awarded jointly the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) Airline of the Year Award for 2009.
AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani said the award further bolstered Air Asia’s global reputation for providing excellent and value-for-money services.
“We are honoured to have been awarded this title, not once, but now twice,” he said.
"This is validation from our guests and peers that with our stunningly low air fares, new fleet, growing network, outstanding service, and constant innovations such as our new flatbed Premium seats, we are a truly global and great airline worthy of recognition.
“The fact that AirAsia has experienced continued growth in a tough economic climate over the last 12 months makes the win even sweeter.
"Being a low-cost airline should never have to mean delivering a low-quality service. Air Asia is proof of the fact that affordable travel and extremely high service standards can operate hand in hand.”
AirAsia’s network extends across 130 routes covering 70 destinations.
Its long haul affiliate, AirAsia X, flies to Australian destinations from Kuala Lumpur including Melbourne, Perth and the Gold Coast.
AirAsia Indonesia also operates a Perth to Bali service.
Mr Osman-Rani said AirAsia had experienced strong growth on all of its Australian routes, helping contribute to the 2010 World’s Best Low Cost Airline award.
“The three Australian routes have all been extremely successful and have helped make AirAsia the success it is today,” he said.
“But we won’t rest on our laurels. Now that we’ve reinvigorated our fleet with more comfortable new seats, we’re going to focus next on further improving our customer contact points, making it easier to purchase multiple flight sectors, and livening up our food and
“AirAsia will undoubtedly continue to face challenges but there is a very positive outlook for 2011.
“We hope next year will prove third time is a charm for AirAsia by scoring the World’s Best Low Cost Airline award again.”