The annual Paris Air Show is well underway and with it comes the glitz and glamour of the Skytrax World Airline Awards 2017. The yearly event is a culmination of nearly 20 million passenger surveys – 320 global airlines are assessed with 49 individual factors scrutinised. Skytrax says it’s the “most respected global airline passenger study” and the awards are closely watched by industry insiders.
So it was no surprise that Akbar Al Baker, the Chief Executive of Qatar Airways was visibly ecstatic when his airline won the coveted title of ‘Worlds best Airline‘ – the fourth time since 1999 that Qatar Airways has won the award. Baker declared the award as a “significant testimony of our passengers’ belief and trust in our unwavering commitment to deliver only the best.”
Qatar Airways also walked away with the awards for ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’, ‘World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge’ and ‘World’s Best Business Class’. Yesterday, the airline revealed its revolutionary new QSuite Business Class seat onboard a real life aircraft at the air show.
The fully fitted out Boeing 777 aircraft will return to operation on 24th June and fly between Doha to London Heathrow. The QSuite will then be rolled out to Paris and New York with the entire Qatar Airways fleet being retrofitted at a speed of one aircraft per month. Baker has said the new seat will “transform premium travel” and bring “a First Class experience to the Business Class cabin.”
Interestingly, Baker took the opportunity to make the award ceremony a political event, spelling out his displeasure of the recent diplomatic rift between Qatar and several Arab countries.
“At these difficult times of illegal bans on flights out of my country by big bullies, this is an award not to me, not to my airline, but to my country,” commented Baker.
Qatar Airways will be looking to leverage the awards to convince passengers to fly with them instead of their Middle East rivals. The Doha-based carrier pushed Emirates off the top spot, who landed in fourth place behind Singapore Airways and Japenese carrier, ANA All Nippon Airlines.
But while most of the attention goes to Qatar Airways and its full-service competitors, let’s not forget Norwegian – the low-cost carrier who has been making big waves in both Europe and the U.S. This year, Norwegian once again took home the award for ‘World’s Best Low-Cost Long-Haul Airline’ and ‘Best Low-Cost Airline in Europe’.
It’s the third year in a row that Norwegian has snatched the ‘low-cost, long haul’ title and the fifth consecutive year as Europes No.1 low-cost airline. Edward Plaisted, CEO of Skytrax said of Norwegian’s success: “Norwegian has been one of the most consistent performers in the World Airline Awards over the last five years,”
He continued: “It has been successful not only in keeping ahead of its low-cost rivals in the annual survey but also improving its position amongst full-service carrier. This underlined by its position in the top 30 airlines globally.”
Norwegian is now the third largest low-cost airline in Europe and the seventh largest in the world. The airline has recently expanded its important U.S. operations with new services opening from Stewart International Airport, near New York and Providence in Greater Boston. The airline will be using Boeing 737MAX aircraft to fly directly to smaller European cities including Edinburgh, Dublin, Shannon, Cork and Belfast.
“It is such an honour that so many passengers once again have voted for us, it means a lot. This would never be possible without the hard-working and dedicated colleagues we have at Norwegian,” commented Norwegian’s CEO Bjørn Kjos.
Kjos finished with this important point: “We believe that air travel should be affordable to all, while at the same time offering a high-quality product.”