World’s best airlines for 2018 announced by Skytrax

CNN  — 

After 10 years in the wilderness – if a premium airline that flies direct to more than 60 destinations can truly experience a wilderness – Singapore Airlines is back on top.

The Asian carrier was named Airline of the Year at the 2018 Skytrax World Airline awards, an honor it last held in 2008. It beat last year’s victor, Qatar Airways, into second place.

“We’re very ecstatic,” Yeoh Phee Teik, Singapore’s senior vice president of customer experience, told CNN, shortly after senior staff and crew took to the stage at a glitzy ceremony in London on Tuesday.

The top prize in what is seen as the aviation industry’s equivalent of the Oscars, was one of four awards taken home by Singapore. It also claimed best first class, best airline in Asia and best first class seat.

Qatar, which held the crown in 2015, 2012 and 2011 – as well as 2017 – didn’t leave empty handed, with the airline’s Group CEO Akbar Al Baker taking to the stage to pick up award after award.

The Doha-based carrier took home prizes for best business class, best airline in the Middle East and best business class seat.

‘Elevated experience’

Zodiac Aerospace seats for Singapore Airlines' Airbus A350-900 ULR
The world's comfiest premium economy seats?
01:21 - Source: CNN

Singapore’s victory marked a resurgence in Asian carriers, which have vied with their Middle Eastern counterparts for dominance ever since UK-based aviation industry reviewer Skytrax began its awards – voted for by passengers – in 2001.

Aside from a win by Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific in 2014, the past seven years have all gone to airlines based around the Arabian Gulf.

Yeoh says Singapore’s return was due to sustained focus on improving its product as well as investment in a more modern fleet of medium and long-haul aircraft.

The airline has often led the way in premium offerings, with innovations such as its hotel room-style suites with double beds and its consistently best-in-class seating. It’s also due to its scheduled re-launch of the world’s longest flight between Newark, New Jersey and Singapore in October 2018.

“I think we can attribute this to the hard working team which has continued to elevate the customer experience,” Yeoh said.

“We’re glad that our work has been recognized and our customers have voted for us to be the world’s best.”

The rest of the top 10 was a familiar line up of respected airlines, dominated by Asian and Middle Eastern names. Third place went to ANA All Nippon Airways, fourth to Emirates, fifth to Taiwan’s EVA Air and sixth to Cathay Pacific.

Lufthansa was the only European carrier to make the top 10, in seventh place. It was followed by China’s Hainan Airlines in eighth, Garuda Indonesia in ninth and Thai Airways in 10th.

Garuda, which has turned its service around since the early days of Skytrax, when it was banned from flying into European airspace, was presented with the prize for best cabin staff.

US airlines failed to pick up a single award.

The best airline in North America was named as Air Canada, and the region’s best low-cost flier was WestJet, another Canadian carrier.

Air France lived up to its nation’s reputation for culinary excellence with awards for best first class onboard catering, best first class comfort amenities and best first class lounge dining.

The top 10 world’s best airlines for 2018

1. Singapore Airlines

2. Qatar Airways

3. ANA All Nippon Airways

4. Emirates

5. EVA Air

6. Cathay Pacific

7. Lufthansa

8. Hainan Airlines

9. Garuda Indonesia

10. Thai Airways

Best airlines – by global region

Northern Europe – Finnair

Western Europe – Lufthansa

Eastern Europe – Aeroflot Russian Airlines

Africa – Ethiopian Airlines

Australia / Pacific – Qantas Airlines

Central Asia / India – Air Astana

China – Hainan Airlines

Central America / Caribbean – Copa Airlines

South America – Avianca

North America – Air Canada

Asia – Singapore Airlines

Middle East – Qatar Airways

Europe – Lufthansa

Best low-cost airlines

Africa – Mango

Australia & Pacific – Jetstar Airways

Asia – AirAsia

Central Asia / India – Indigo

China – West Air

South America – Sky Airline

North America – WestJet

Middle East – Flynas

Europe – Norwegian

Best airline catering

Economy – Thai Airways

Premium economy – Aeroflot Russian Airlines

Business – Austrian Airlines

First class – Air France

Best airline seats

Economy – Japan Airlines

Premium economy – Air New Zealand

Business – Qatar Airways

First class – Singapore Airlines

Best regional airlines

Africa – Royal Air Maroc

Asia – Bangkok Airways

South America – Azul Brazilian Airlines

Central Asia / India – Azerbaijan Airlines

Europe – Aegean Airlines

Best airline lounges

First class – Qatar Airways

Airline alliance lounge – Star Alliance Los Angeles

Independent airport lounge – Plaza Premium Heathrow Terminal Two

First class lounge dining – Air France

Airline lounge spa facility – Thai Awards

Best airlines staff service – by global region

Africa – South African Airways

Australia / Pacific – Qantas Airways

Central Asia / India – Vistara

China – Hainan Airlines

Central America / Caribbean – Copa Airlines

South America – Azul Brazilian Airlines

Asia – ANA All Nippon Airways

Middle East – Emirates

Europe – Austrian Airlines