World's best airline for 2018 named by Airline Ratings

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The world's best airline for 2018 has been announced – and the winner is no stranger to the accolade, picking up the top gong for the fifth time in a row.

Air New Zealand is the recipient of the number one placing by AirlineRatings.com in its annual assessment of the world's carriers, ranking ahead of its antipodean rivals Qantas and Singapore Airlines. Virgin Australia came fourth ahead of Virgin Atlantic in fifth, while Etihad, All Nippon Airways (ANA), Korean Air, Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines completed the top 10.

The world's best airlines according to AirlineRatings.com

(click on the links to read Traveller's most recent reviews of the airlines)

  1. Air New Zealand (Review: Premium economy)
  2. Qantas (Review: Economy class)
  3. Singapore Airlines (Review: Business class)
  4. Virgin Australia (Review: Business class)
  5. Virgin Atlantic (Review: Premium economy)
  6. Etihad Airways (Review: Economy class)
  7. All Nippon Airways (Review: Premium economy)
  8. Korean Air (Review: Economy class)
  9. Cathay Pacific (Review: Economy class)
  10. Japan Airlines (Review: Premium economy)

"Whether number one or number 10, these airlines are the best of the best – the elite in aviation," the judging team said.

AirlineRatings.com uses 13 criteria to create its rankings, examining the safety record of carriers (airlines must have a seven-star safety rating) as well as taking into account innovations in passenger comfort, passenger reviews, fleet age and environmental credentials.

It says the judging team places particular significance on the quality of premium economy seats on long-haul aircraft, which it says are "without a doubt the best value proposition for the passenger and airline", and also checks that business class has flat beds.

"We are looking for leadership and airlines that innovate to make a real difference to the passenger experience, particularly in economy class," the team said.

It said that though Air New Zealand topped the rankings for the fifth consecutive year, Qantas and Singapore Airline, both rolling out new aircraft in the form of Boeing 787s and Airbus A350s, are catching up.

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Of Air New Zealand, AirlineRatings.com said: "Air New Zealand is being honoured for the fifth consecutive year for its continued record-breaking financial performance, in-flight innovations, environmental leadership, young fleet and motivation of its staff. These factors have stamped the airline as an industry trendsetter.

"Air New Zealand came out number one - or equal first - in all of our audit criteria, which is an exceptional performance."

Europe's only entry to the top 10 was Virgin Atlantic, which was praised for its "in-flight product and service".

The top 10 of AirlineRatings differs from that of Skytrax, which is reponsible for the annual World Airline Awards. It rates Qatar Airways as the world's top carrier, ahead of Singapore Airlines and ANA.

The world's best airlines, according to Skytrax

  1. Qatar Airways
  2. Singapore Airlines
  3. All Nippon Airways
  4. Emirates
  5. Cathay Pacific
  6. EVA Air
  7. Lufthansa
  8. Etihad Airways
  9. Hainan Airlines
  10. Garuda Indonesia

Source: World Airline Awards

See also: World's best airline for 2017 named as Qantas hits new low

What are the world's 'worst' airlines?

According to AirlineRatings, in a report last year, there are 10 airlines it deems to have just one star out of a possible seven when it comes to safety standards.

Batik AirBluewing AirlinesCitilinkKal-Star aviationLion airSriwijaya AirTransNusaTrigana Air ServiceWings AirXpress Air

What are the world's safest?

Earlier this year, AirlineRatings published a list of its 20 safest carriers, with 19 at equal pegging, but Qantas deemed out in front.

The world's safest airline, according to AirlineRatings.com

Qantas

The 19 other safest airlines (in alphabetical order)

  • Air New Zealand
  • Alaska Airlines
  • All Nippon Airways
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Etihad Airways
  • EVA Air
  • Finnair
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Japan Airlines
  • KLM
  • Lufthansa
  • Scandinavian
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Swiss
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Virgin Australia

AirlineRatings.com also handed out a number of specialist awards for 2018, with the winners as follows.

Best first class

The view from first class with Singapore Airlines.

Singapore Airlines

Best business class

Virgin Australia's new business class cabin on board its Boeing 777.

Virgin Australia

Best premium economy

Air New Zealand

Best economy

Korean Air

Best cabin crew

Singapore Airlines flight attendants on board an A380.

Photo: Joe Armao

Singapore Airlines

Best catering

Qantas

Best lounges

Qantas

Best in-flight entertainment

Emirates

Regional airline of the year

Aegean Airlines

Most improved

Tiankin Airlines

Ultra low-cost airline of the year

VietJetAir.com

Best long haul

Etihad (Middle East/Africa)

Korean Air (Asia/Pacific)

Virgin Atlantic (Europe)

Air Canada (Americas)

Best low-cost

Westjet (Americas)

Scoot (Asia/Pacific)

Norwegian (Europe)

The Telegraph, London

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