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World's top 10 airlines

Last updated on: November 26, 2010 08:39 IST

World's top 10 airlines

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More than 17.9 million air travellers from over 100 different nationalities took part in a 10-month survey between July 2009 and April 2010 to choose the world's best airline.

At the Skytrax 2010 World Airline Awards, that took place in Hamburg, 40 different airlines from around the world assembled to receive their accolades.

The survey measured over 38 items of airline products and service standards.

Assessing the customer experience across airports and onboard environments -- check-in to boarding -- onboard seat comfort, cabin cleanliness, food, beverages and  staff service.

Among the 40 there were two Indian airlines.

While neither made it to the list of the world's top ten airlines, their achievement nonetheless is commendable.

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Kingfisher Airlines

Vijay Mallya promoted Kingfisher Airlines is one of six airlines in the world to have a 5-star rating from Skytrax.

With a fleet of 66 aircraft, it operates more than 375 daily flights to 71 destinations, with regional and long-haul international services.

India's second-biggest domestic carrier, recently said some reserve pilots had left the company to join rival Jet Airways.

The airline's board is considering a possible sale of securities to help pare the carrier's Rs 7,720 crore (Rs 77.2 billion) or $1.7 billion debt pile.

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Image: Vijay Mallya pose beside a Kingfisher aircraft.

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The airline has already reduced its fleet of leased planes, curbed the number of expatriate pilots and appointed Sanjay Aggarwal, formerly head of budget carrier SpiceJet, as chief executive officer to help cut costs.

The carrier announced a net loss of Rs 230 crore (Rs 2.3 billion) in the three months ended September 2010.

Kingfisher Airlines is also the sponsor of F1 racing outfit, Force India.

Kingfisher won awards in three categories:

  • Best Airline : India/Central Asia
  • Best Airline Seat - Economy Class, and
  • Staff Service Excellence Award - India/Central Asia

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Image: Bar in a Kingfisher international flight.

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IndiGo Airlines

A private domestic low-cost airline based in Gurgaon, IndiGo operates domestic services linking 23 destinations.

Its main base is Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport.

IndiGo, which is operated by InterGlobe Enterprises Ltd, has sought the civil aviation ministry's approval to fly on international routes after it completes the mandatory five years of domestic operations in August 2011.

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Image: IndiGo Airlines.

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The carrier, wants to fly to countries in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and South West Asia.

It was adjusdged the best low-cost airline in India.

Air Asia won the award for best low-cost airline worldwide.

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Image: Interior view of IndiGo.

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Asiana Airlines (Rank 1)

It won the prestige Airline of the Year award at the 2010 World Airline Awards.

It is one of South Korea's two major airlines, along with Korean Air.

Headquartered in Asiana Town in Osoe-dong, Gangseo-gu, Seoul, Asiana has its domestic hub at Gimpo International Airport and its international hub at Incheon International Airport (70 kilometres from central Seoul).

Asiana is a member of the Star Alliance and offers 516 daily departures throughout Asia, Europe, North America and Oceania.

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Image: Asiana Airlines.

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It operates 13 domestic and 81 international passenger routes and 20 cargo routes.

In 2010, Asiana was named the airline with the best in-flight service in the world by Global Travelers magazine, which was the sixth honor for Asiana in as many years.

Asiana is also rated the best airline of 2010 in Northern Asia.

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Image: Business Class of Asiana Airlines.

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Singapore Airlines (Rank 2)

Singapore Airlines operates a hub at Changi Airport and has a strong presence in the Southeast Asia, East Asia, South Asia, and 'Kangaroo Route' markets.

The company also operates trans-Pacific flights, including the world's two longest non-stop commercial flights from Singapore to Newark and Los Angeles on the Airbus A340-500.

Singapore Airlines was the launch customer of the 'superjumbo' Airbus A380.

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Image: Singapore Airlines.

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It ranks amongst the top 15 carriers worldwide in terms of revenue passenger kilometres, and 6th in the world for international passengers carried.

Singapore Airlines is the World's Most Admired Airline and ranked 27th on Fortune World's Most Admired Companies rankings in 2010.

At the Skytrax Awards, it won in three other categories:

  • Best Cabin Staff
  • Best Airline : South East Asia, and
  • Best Airline Seat - Business Class

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Image: Business Class of Singapore Airlines.

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Qatar Airways (Rank 3)

Headquartered in the Qatar Airways Tower, Qatar Airways Company operates a hub and spoke network, linking over 90 international destinations from its base in Doha, using a fleet of 84 aircraft.

Qatar Airways operates services across Africa, Central Asia, Europe, Far East, Indian subcontinent, Middle East, North America, South America and Oceania.

The airline also operates one of the youngest fleets in the world (an average of less than 4.1 years).

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Image: Qatar Airways.

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The airline employs more than 15,000 people. 10,000 employees work for the airline directly while the other 5,000 work in the airline's subsidiaries.

At the Skytrax Awards, it won in four other categories:

  • Best Business Class
  • Best Airline : Middle East
  • Best Onboard Catering - Business Class, and
  • Staff Service Excellence Award - Middle East

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Image: A view of the Business Class seats.

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Cathay Pacific (Rank 4)

Cathay Pacific is the flag carrier of Hong Kong.

The airline's operations include scheduled passenger and cargo services to 114 destinations in 36 countries worldwide, including codeshares and joint ventures, with a fleet of 126 wide-body aircraft, consisting of Airbus A330s and A340s, Boeing 747s and 777s.

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The airline was founded on September 24, 1946 by American Roy C Farrell and Australian Sydney H de Kantzow, with each man putting up HK$1 to register the airline.

The airline made the world's first non-stop transpolar flight flying over the North Pole in July 1998.

Cathay Pacific is a founding member of the Oneworld alliance.

At Skytrax it also also won the award for Best Airline : Transpacific.

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Image: The new Economy Class seats.

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Air New Zealand (Rank 5)

Based in Auckland, New Zealand, the airline operates scheduled passenger flights to 27 domestic destinations and 26 international destinations in 14 countries across Asia, Europe, North America and Oceania.

Air New Zealand originated in 1940 as Tasman Empire Airways Limited (TEAL), a flying boat company operating trans-Tasman flights between New Zealand and Australia.

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TEAL became wholly owned by the New Zealand government in 1965, whereupon it was renamed Air New Zealand.

New Zealand's national airline operates a long-haul fleet consisting of Boeing 747, Boeing 767, Boeing 777 and At Airbus A320 aircraft on international routes.

At Skytrax it won in two other categories:

  • Best Airline : Australia/Pacific, and
  • Staff Service Excellence Award - Australia/Pacific

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Image: A view of the Business Class.

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Etihad Airways (Rank 6)

The flag carrier airline of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Etihad means 'union' in Arabic.

The airline operates close to 147 daily flights to 64 destinations in 42 countries, via a fleet of 57 aircraft.

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Its operation is heavily centered in Europe and Asia, as well as Oceania, Africa and North America.

Its main base is Abu Dhabi International Airport, with its head office in Khalifa City A, Abu Dhabi.

The three other categories it won are:

  • Best First Class
  • Best Airline Seat - First Class, and
  • Best Onboard Catering - First Class.

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Image: Diamond Zone of Etihad.

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Qantas Airways (Rank 7)

Nicknamed 'The Flying Kangaroo', the airline is based in Sydney.

It is Australia's largest airline and the world's second oldest continuously operating airline.

The airline is considered a four-star airline by research consultancy firm Skytrax.

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Image: Qantas Airways.

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Qantas flies to 18 domestic destinations and 21 international destinations in 14 countries across Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

It was also adjudged the winner in the Best Airline Seat - Premium Economy Class category and Best Premium Economy Class.

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Image: Interior view of the craft.

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Emirates (Rank 8)

The largest airline in the Middle East, Emirates operates over 2,400 passenger flights per week, from its hub at Dubai International Airport Terminal 3, to 105 cities in 62 countries across six continents.

The company also operates three of the ten world's longest non-stop commercial flights from Dubai to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston.

Emirates has over 50,000 employees, and is wholly-owned by the Government of Dubai.

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Image: Emirates.

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It operates a mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing wide-body aircraft and is one of only nine airlines to operate an all wide-body aircraft fleet.

The centrepiece of the airline's fleet is the Boeing 777.

Emirates also has orders for 90 Airbus A380s with 12 of them already in service and became the second operator of the Airbus A380-800 after Singapore Airlines.

It was the winner in the Best Inflight Entertainment category.

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Image: The First Class seats.

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Thai Airways (Rank 9)

From its hub at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thai flies to 71 destinations in 34 countries, using a fleet of 98 aircraft.

The airline operates one of the longest non-stop commercial flights, including the 18 hours non-stop flight from Bangkok to Los Angeles.

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Image: Thai Airways.

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Thai Airways was the First Asia/Pacific Airline to serve London's Heathrow Airport.

It was the winner in two other categories:

  • Best Airport Services, and
  • Best Airline Lounge - First Class.

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Image: The First Class.

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Malaysia Airlines (Rank 10)

Despite a financial restructuring exercise in 2006, Malaysia Airlines maintains a strong presence in Southeast Asia, East Asia, South Asia, Middle East and on the Kangaroo Route between Europe and Australasia.

Malaysia Airlines also operated transatlantic flights from Kuala Lumpur to Newark, via Stockholm until October 2009.

It operates transpacific flights from Kuala Lumpur to Los Angeles, via Taipei.

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In 1997, the airline flew the world's longest non-commercial, non-stop flight from Boeing Field in Seattle to Kuala Lumpur.

It is one of only six airlines to be given a 5-star status airline by Skytrax (the other 5 are Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines and Kingfisher Airlines).

It also won in two other categories:

  • Best Economy Class, and
  • Staff Service Excellence Award - Asia.


Image: A First Class seat.

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