World's best airline for 2020 named by experts

Air New Zealand is back on top in the annual Airline Excellence Awards, claiming back the airline of the year award from Singapore Airlines. 

The awards, judged by seven editors from, combines safety ratings with factors such as fleet age, passenger reviews, profitability, product offerings and staff relations. 

Air New Zealand won the title five times before losing out to Singapore Airlines in 2018. editor-in-chief Geoffrey Thomas said New Zealand's national carrier topped nearly every category this year, saying it "punches well above its weight" and "is the industry's leading benchmark". 

"Air New Zealand's commitment to excellence in all facets of its business starts at the top with outstanding governance and one of the best executive teams in aviation through to a workforce that is delivering consistently to the airline's strategy and customer promise," he said. 

While Singapore Airlines also scored highly across the 11 criteria, Air New Zealand's excellent passenger feedback helped it claim the title of airline of the year for 2020, Thomas said. 

"What tipped the scales for Air New Zealand was the very positive passenger review scores and comments not just from our website but several others which we monitor."

The airline's young fleet and environmental focus also played a role, he added. 

Singapore Airlines, which he described as "the gold standard for decades and always in the top three", was a strong contender, he added. As was All Nippon Airways, which is "clearly at the top of its game". 


Air New Zealand acting chief executive Jeff McDowall thanked staff for their dedication and customers for their ongoing loyalty. 

"Our 12,500 employees both on the ground and in the air are committed to offering the best travel experience on the 17 million customer journeys we facilitate every year, so it's fantastic to have these efforts recognised by such an esteemed global judging panel."

Air New Zealand has also won the best premium economy award for the sixth year in a row. Singapore Airlines won best first class, Qatar Airways best business class and Virgin Australia best economy class. 

Qantas took out the awards for the best domestic airline service and best lounges. 

Qatar also won the best catering award, while Emirates was said to have the best in-flight entertainment. Virgin Australia took out the award for the best cabin crew. 

Air New Zealand did not fare nearly so well in Skytrax's 2019 World Airline Rankings, based on a survey of more than 20 million passengers from around the globe.

Qatar Airways topped that list, ending Singapore Airlines' four years on top. Air New Zealand came in at number 16 and took out the awards for best premium economy and best cabin cleanliness in Australia and the Pacific. 

See: World's best airline for 2019 named as Qantas soars into top 10

AirlineRatings' Top 20 Airlines for 2020

  • Air New Zealand 
  • Singapore Airlines 
  • All Nippon Airways 
  • Qantas
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Emirates
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • EVA Air
  • Qatar Airways
  • Virgin Australia
  • Lufthansa
  • Finnair 
  • Japan Airlines
  • KLM
  • Korean Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Etihad Airways

See also: Airline review: Air New Zealand premium economy

See also: Airline review: Economy class on the world's best airline for 2019