Airlines - A look at the 2018 rankings

A key element of business travel is the actual journey, and companies are in stiff competition with one another to come up with the best solution. Here, we report on what worked best.

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Every year, airlines from all over the world are scrutinised from all angles (services, procedures, delays, refunds etc.). This analysis makes it possible to rank them according to overall satisfaction rates, and to understand what worked and what didn't. Let’s take a look at the current picture.

This year, once again, the Skytrax ranking was eagerly awaited by airline players and business-travel professionals. This independent rating programme is based on a panel of 20 million passengers from 105 different countries. It assesses no fewer than 325 airlines using 49 parameters that cover the entire offering (including boarding procedures, seat comfort and quality of service). At the end of 2018, this ranking gave us a global view of the airline market, with the key findings coming in as follows. 

Asian companies more than ever at the top

Not surprisingly, Asian carriers stood out from the rest once again, taking nine out of the top 10 places with Singapore Airlines in first position, edging out Qatar Airways to win this award for the fourth time. Its new 'first-class double suite' no doubt helped secure this position. The company also won the award for ‘Best First Class in the World 2018’. The only European company that managed to retain a place in this leading group was Lufthansa.

(3. ANA All Nippon Airways, 4. Emirates, 5. EVA Air, 6. Cathay Pacific, 7. Lufthansa, 8. Hainan Airlines, 9. Garuda Indonesia, 10. Thai Airways).

Air France slipped down the rankings, and yet…

While the French company had already moved down by four places last year (going from 14th to 18th), it’s currently 25th overall. What was behind such a downturn? It may have been the bitter labour dispute (with the resignation of the CEO), which led to many strike days and dissatisfied customers. However, as far as services are concerned, the company came out with honours, being voted Best First Class in Europe with its ‘La Première’ programme. It also won awards for best in-flight dining, best lounge dining and best comfort amenities. Air France's cabin crew also took home the prize for Best Cabin Crew in France. It’s worth noting that the launch of its new Premium Economy Class could weigh in its favour for the 2019 rankings.

Focus on major developments

Looking simply at the key points, here are the top five most noteworthy performances of 2018.
  • Qatar Airways maintained its top global ranking for Business Class.
  • Lufthansa maintained that of Best Business Class in Europe.
  • This year, Air New Zealand won the award for Best Premium Economy Class. 
  • The award for best low-cost long-haul airline went to the company Norwegian Air, no doubt due to the addition of some 56 premium seats to each of its aircraft.
  • The airlines that made the most progress across the board were: China Southern Airlines, Philippine Airlines and Fiji Airways. 

Delays were a major negative point for European companies

In the air transport sector, operational reliability remains an area where a great deal of improvement is still required. Here, performances for the year were recorded by a RefundMyTicket study, and the results were clear. In the summer alone, 5.8 million passengers experienced significant delays (of between one to three hours) and cancellations. The worst offenders included Vueling, which featured in the leading group for several categories (delays of more than one hour, delays of more than three hours, and flight cancellations), followed closely by EasyJet, which recorded a very high delay rate, but few cancellations. The highest cancellation rate went to HOP !, with 2.5% of its flights having been cancelled. KLM won first place for reliability, despite more than 6% of its flight delays being for one hour or more, followed by Air France, British Airways and Lufthansa. 

New developments to come

Competition and the pursuit of comfort (which has already commenced) are set to redefine the lines in the future. Improving traveller experience is at the heart of companies' concerns, low-cost and scheduled airlines alike, which are all, in their own way, trying out new approaches. Pulling each other up, airlines are closing the gap that separates them. See our next report on air transport to find out about new developments and new positions gained. 
Published by Magali on 06/02/2019 Photo credit: © andresr

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