CNN  — 

Its economy lie-flat seating concept is making waves, and now Air New Zealand is officially the airline of the year, at least according to Australia-based aviation safety and product rating agency cites AirNZ’s intriguing SkyNest economy beds – set to launch in 2024 – as one of the key factors determining its number one spot.

“The airline is always innovating and not content to take off-the-shelf products and seats but go one better,” Geoffrey Thomas,’s editor-in-chief, told CNN Travel, crediting Air New Zealand’s dedicated design studio and its output. “It’s this focus on the economy travelers’ wellbeing and comfort that impressed the judges.” also praised Air New Zealand’s operational safety, environmental leadership and staff motivation.

Ranking airlines

Qatar Airways topped's 2022 list. This year the airline came in at number two.

After a couple of years of reduced air travel in the wake of the pandemic, travelers returned to the air in 2022 to significant airline chaos – canceled flights, lost luggage and overstretched staff.

The result, said Thomas, was an “interesting” year all in all, as “most airlines suffered declines in passenger approvals as the industry struggled to get into the air.”

The jury’s still out on whether this year will see a more stable air travel landscape. And interestingly, while Air New Zealand came out on top for 2023, Thomas said the results were close among the top five.

Qatar Airways, which topped