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World Airline Awards 2011: Top 10 Airline Winners

The travelling public names the world's best airlines.
And the winner is...
And the winner is...

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Skytrax has announced the winners of its World Airline Awards for 2011.

This year’s results were based on the responses of 18.8 million passengers from 100 countries.

Survey respondents were interviewed between July 2010 and May 2011. They were asked to rate airlines across a range of factors, including check-in, boarding, seat and cabin comfort, cuisine, in-flight entertainment and staff service.

The awards are followed closely because they reflect customer opinion and help airlines identify areas for improvement.

Awards are handed out in a broad range of categories, culminating in the main ‘Airline of the Year’ award. Read below to count down the top ten in the Airline of the Year category.

10. Emirates
Dubai’s state-owned carrier is the first of three GCC airlines to feature in the top ten. The largest global operator of the A380 made mega profits in its last financial year and continues to add new routes and grow its fleet at a rapid pace. Tenth position is a fall of two places from last year, though the airline will be delighted to have won the ‘Best In-Flight Entertainment System’ prize at the awards.

9. Turkish Airlines
Europe’s highest placed airline is Turkish, which came in at number nine overall. In addition to hiring the Manchester United first team as brand ambassadors, the airline has invested considerably in the cabin experience. Turkish won this year’s prize for ‘Best Premium Economy Class Seat’. The airline now has around 170 planes in its fleet and flies to 140 international destinations.

8. Qantas Airways
Despite recent safety scares, notably last year’s A380 engine explosion, Qantas retains its place in the top ten. According to passengers, it provides the third best first class airline food and third best premium economy seat. The Australian airline celebrated its 90th birthday in 2010.

7. Air New Zealand
The Antipodean carrier is famous for its advertising campaigns and is rapidly becoming known for its service offering. Its premium economy class was a massive hit with passengers this year. It won in the ‘Best Premium Economy Class Airline’ and ‘World's Best Premium Economy Class Catering’ categories. Its premium economy class seat was voted second best in the world.

6. Etihad Airways
Etihad Airways remained in sixth place overall this year and carried off the award for best first class airline food. It was also named ‘Best First Class Airline’ and was judged to have the second best first class airline seat. Like the other GCC carriers in this list, Etihad is spending freely to acquire new planes and expand its route network.

5. Thai Airways
Thai Airways was the big mover in this list, rising from ninth last year to fifth this time around. Its economy class seat and economy class food were both named best in the world. The airline operates from Bangkok’s recently built Suvarnabhumi Airport.

4. Cathay Pacific
Cathay Pacific Airways is the flag carrier of Hong Kong, with its head office and main hub located at Hong Kong International Airport. The airline’'s operations include scheduled passenger and cargo services to 114 destinations in 36 countries worldwide, including codeshares and joint ventures.

3. Asiana Airlines
Last year’s winner was third this time around. Asiana Airlines is one of South Korea's two major airlines. The airline has its domestic hub at Gimpo International Airport and its international hub at Incheon International Airport. The airline currently serves 14 domestic and 85 international passenger routes.

2. Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines is one of the world's leading carriers, flying to five continents across the globe. It was the first airline to operate the A380, and flies to 62 destinations in 35 countries on six continents from its primary hub in Singapore.

It has a strong presence in the Southeast Asian region, which together with its subsidiary SilkAir, connects Singapore with more international destinations in the region than any other Southeast Asian airline.

1. Qatar Airways
There was no hiding the delight of Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, when he picked up the award. Qatar has risen steadily in the Skytrax rankings, from eighth place six years ago and third place last year.

The airline has made good use of its geographical location to develop an international route network, with Doha as the hub. It now serves more than 100 international destinations, has one of the world’s youngest fleets and has billions of dollars worth of planes on order.

Like other Gulf carriers in this list, European airlines criticise it for allegedly receiving massive state subsidies and other assistance. That won’t bother Akbar Al Baker, however, who has said he wants to list the airline within the next two years.

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