World's best airlines 2021 named: Qatar Airways knocks off Air New Zealand

Qatar Airways can add another feather to its cap after being awarded the world's best airline for 2021 in a ranking by experts.'s list put Qatar Airways at No.1, naming the Middle Eastern carrier 2021 Airline of the Year award in its Airline Excellence Awards.

The airline was praised for its in-flight innovations, commitment to global travellers during COVID-19, operational safety, pursuit of excellence and environmental leadership. The awards are judged by aviation editors from around the world and assess 11 key criteria that include fleet age, passenger reviews, COVID-19 rating and product offerings. editor-in-chief, Geoffrey Thomas, said: "In our objective analysis Qatar Airways came out number one in virtually all of our audit criteria, which is an exceptional performance."

The award comes after Qatar was also named world's best airline at the Skytrax World Airline Awards in 2019, the last time those awards were held. It was the sixth time Qatar had taken out that award.

"Over the past 16 months, the aviation industry has witnessed some of its darkest days, but Qatar Airways has continued to operate and stand by our passengers despite many other airlines halting operations due the pandemic," said Qatar Airways Group chief executive, Akbar Al Baker.

Qatar Airways also took out the awards for Best Middle East Airline, Best Catering, and Best Business Class for its Qsuite (Read Traveller's review). Last month the airline unveiled its new business class seats for its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.

The airline became the biggest airline in the world last year, based on passenger kilometres flown, as Qatar continued to fly international routes when other carriers pulled out.

That included its routes to Australia, which Qatar actually increased capacity on as rivals reduced or suspended services. The airline also launched a new Doha-Brisbane route.


It still holds the title for world's biggest airline based on available seat kilometres.

Qatar knocked Air New Zealand from top spot into second place, followed by Singapore Airlines, Qantas and Emirates. Qantas' position in fourth place was unchanged from its previous ranking.

Some of the other award winners included Air New Zealand for Best Premium Economy and Best Economy; Qantas for Best Domestic Airline Service and Best Lounges; Singapore Airlines for Best First Class; Virgin Australia for Best Cabin Crew and Emirates for Best In-Flight Entertainment.

The awards, which are normally announced in November, were postponed until July due to the pandemic.


  1. Qatar Airways
  2. Air New Zealand
  3. Singapore Airlines
  4. Qantas
  5. Emirates
  6. Cathay Pacific
  7. Virgin Atlantic
  8. United Airlines
  9. EVA Air
  10. British Airways
  11. Lufthansa
  12. ANA
  13. Finnair
  14. Japan Air Lines
  15. KLM
  16. Hawaiian Airlines
  17. Alaska Airlines
  18. Virgin Australia
  19. Delta Air Lines
  20. Etihad Airways.

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