The awards -- decided by 18.2 million passengers in 160 countries around the world -- judge airlines on everything from the cleanliness of the cabin to the quality of the in-flight food and entertainment.
Dubai-based Emirates took the debut prize in 2001, and retained it in 2002, before missing out on the top spot for a decade.
Now they're back to make it a hat-trick -- and the company's president, Tim Clark, puts their return to award-winning form down to one thing, "exteremely hard work."
"We've got 200 aircraft, 18,000 cabin crew and ground staff," he explained, admitting that with 200 aircraft and 18,000 cabin crew and ground staff the company's operations were "not easy, but you work hard at what you're doing, you deliver to people's expectations, and hopefully exceed those expectations."
Emirates was also named best airline in the Middle East, and won a third award for its in-flight entertainment system.
Cathay Pacific's cabin crew were crowned the world's best, while Air Asia took the prize for best low-cost airline. Japan's ANA won a new award for cabin cleanliness, as well as receiving a five-star airline rating.
John Slosar, CEO of Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific said the win was recognition for the company's "fabulous team."
"We work very hard to make sure it's all about the team, not about individuals. We teach our crew not to just follow the rules, but to express themselves through their work, to offer service straight from the heart."
Presenting the awards, CNN's Richard Quest said consistency was key to the success of those crowned the best in the world.
"It's all about the ability to deliver a product every time -- every flight, for every passenger in every class."
The Skytrax World Airline Awards were established in 1999; they are compiled from the world's largest airline passenger satisfaction survey -- responses to questionnaires in English, Spanish, Chinese and Russian.