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The world’s best airlines for 2016 have been announced

Sorry, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines, but you’re no longer the best in the business. Last week, Dubai–based Emirates was named World’s Best Airline in the 2016 World Airline Awards, an annual ranking released by the international air-transport rating organisation Skytrax. The awards are based on the results of Skytrax’s World Airline Survey, which took place online from August 2015 to May 2016 and was completed by 19.2 million people representing more than 104 nationalities.

Emirates was also honoured with awards for World’s Best Inflight Entertainment–just today, the airline launched the world’s first interactive amenity, which uses augmented reality (AR) technology to provide entertainment–and Best Airline in the Middle East. The airline last held the top spot on the list in 2013, and it was ranked in fifth place last year, so the award reflects a significant improvement in customer satisfaction amongst Emirates’ fliers.

Singapore Airlines lost its prized second-place spot to Qatar Airways, which won awards for World’s Best Business Class, Best Business Class Airline Lounge and Best Airline Staff Service in the Middle East. Still, the news wasn’t all bad: Singapore was recognised with award for Best Airline in Asia and Best Business Class Airline Seat. Also noteworthy: ANA All Nippon Airways won the award for Best Airline Service Staff in Asia, while Thai Airways won World’s Most Improved Airline and Best Airline Lounge Spa Facility awards.

Cathy Pacific B777 300ER
Cathay Pacific is now ranked as the fourth-best airline in the world.

Of course, it’s difficult not to view this year’s ranking as confirmation of what many fliers have suspected or already believe to be a fact: Cathay Pacific Airways has lost some of its lustre in recent years. The Hong Kong–based airline took home the top award from Skytrax in 2014, fell to third place last year, and currently sits in fourth place–hardly a bad showing, but not the best news, either, for an airline that appears to be struggling recently with pilot conflicts, customer satisfaction and appeasing its shareholders. (Just yesterday, the airline warned shareholders that its performance in the first half of 2016 was “below expectations”.) On a more positive note, Cathay did manage to win two awards: World’s Best Airline Cabin Cleanliness and, unsurprisingly, Best First Class Airline Lounge. (You can take a look inside that award-winning lounge here.)

Below is a list of the world’s top 10 airlines of 2016 according to Skytrax’s survey. For the full list of winners, check out the 2016 World Airline Awards site.

  1. Emirates
  2. Qatar Airways
  3. Singapore Airlines
  4. Cathay Pacific Airways
  5. ANA All Nippon Airways
  6. Etihad Airways
  7. Turkish Airlines
  8. EVA Air
  9. Qantas Airways
  10. Lufthansa

Michael Alan Connelly
Head of Digital Content
A Chicagoan by birth and a New Yorker by habit, Michael has more than a decade of experience in digital publishing at leading titles in the U.S. and Asia. When he's not checking out Hong Kong's newest restaurants and bars or jet setting around the globe, you'll find him hanging out with his dog Buster and enjoying an Aperol Spritz.
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