Skytrax announced the SKYTRAX 2017 World Airlines Awards winner at the Paris Air Show with Qatar Airways taking home the grand prize.
Almost 20 million surveys were conducted between August 2016 and May 2017 to determine the awards this year. Of the 320 airlines eligible this year, here are the top 30 (complete list can be found here):
|2017 Ranking||2016 Ranking||Airline Name||IATA Airline Code||Type of Airline||Cabins Offered||Alliance||Major Hub Airports||Region|
|1||2||Qatar Airways||QR||Full Service||First, Business, Economy||oneworld||DOH||Middle East|
|2||3||Singapore Airlines||SQ||Full Service||First, Business, Premium Economy, Economy||Star Alliance||SIN||Asia / Pacific|
|3||5||ANA All Nippon Airways||NH||Full Service||First, Business, Premium Economy, Economy||Star Alliance||NRT, HND||Asia / Pacific|
|4||1||Emirates||EK||Full Service||First, Business, Economy||DXB||Middle East|
|5||4||Cathay Pacific Airways||CX||Full Service||First, Business, Premium Economy, Economy||oneworld||HKG||Asia / Pacific|
|6||8||EVA Air||BR||Full Service||Business, Premium Economy, Economy||Star Alliance||TPE||Asia / Pacific|
|7||10||Lufthansa||LH||Full Service||First, Business, Premium Economy, Economy||Star Alliance||MUC, FRA||Europe|
|8||6||Etihad Airways||EY||Full Service||Residence, First, Business, Economy||AUH||Middle East|
|9||12||Hainan Airlines||HU||Full Service||Business, Economy||SkyTeam||HAK, PEK||Asia / Pacific|
|10||11||Garuda Indonesia||U3||Full Service||First, Business, Economy||SkyTeam||CGK||Asia / Pacific|
|11||13||Thai Airways||TG||Full Service||First, Business, Premium Economy, Economy||Star Alliance||BKK||Asia / Pacific|
|12||7||Turkish Airlines||TK||Full Service||Business, Premium Economy, Economy||Star Alliance||IST||Europe|
|13||18||Virgin Australia||VA||Hybrid||Business, Premium Economy, Economy||SYD, MEL, BNE||Asia / Pacific|
|14||15||Swiss International Air Lines||LX||Full Service||First, Business, Premium Economy, Economy||Star Alliance||GVA, ZRH||Europe|
|15||9||Qantas Airways||QF||Full Service||First, Business, Premium Economy, Economy||oneworld||SYD||Asia / Pacific|
|16||21||Japan Airlines||JL||Full Service||First, Business, Premium Economy, Economy||oneworld||NRT||Asia / Pacific|
|17||19||Austrian||OS||Full Service||Business, Economy||Star Alliance||VIE||Europe|
|18||14||Air France||AF||Full Service||First, Business, Premium Economy, Economy||SkyTeam||CDG||Europe|
|19||17||Air New Zealand||NZ||Full Service||Business, Premium Economy, Economy||Star Alliance||AKL||Asia / Pacific|
|20||16||Asiana Airlines||OZ||Full Service||First, Business, Premium Economy, Economy||Star Alliance||ICN||Asia / Pacific|
|21||20||Bangkok Airways||PG||Full Service||Business, Economy||BKK, CNX, HKT||Asia / Pacific|
|22||24||KLM||KL||Full Service||Business, Premium Economy, Economy||SkyTeam||AMS||Europe|
|23||32||China Southern||CZ||Full Service||First, Business, Premium Economy, Economy||SkyTeam||CAN, PEK||Asia / Pacific|
|24||29||Hong Kong Airlines||HZ||Low Cost||Business, Economy||HKG||Asia / Pacific|
|25||27||Finnair||AY||Full Service||Business, Premium Economy, Economy||oneworld||HEL||Europe|
|26||23||AirAsia||QZ||Low Cost||Premium Economy, Economy||KUL, BKI, PEN||Asia / Pacific|
|27||22||Cathay Dragon||KA||Full Service||First, Business, Economy||HKG||Asia / Pacific|
|28||30||Norwegian||DY||Low Cost||Premium Economy, Economy||OSL, LGW||Europe|
|29||31||Air Canada||AC||Full Service||Business, Premium Economy, Economy||Star Alliance||YYZ, YUL, YVR||Americas|
|30||40||Aeroflot||SU||Full Service||First, Business, Premium Economy, Economy||SkyTeam||SVO||Europe|
With three airlines joining the 2017 list, three dropped off from the chart. They included Virgin Atlantic (VS)(No. 28 -> 33), British Airways (BA) (26 -> 40) and Virgin America (VX) (25 -> 43). Depending on when the surveys were conducted, British Airways’ big drop may have been contributed by the information technology problems it experienced in May 2017 (News).
- This is the second time Qatar Airways made number one in the past five years. The airline never left the top three during that time.
- Aeroflot has made great strides over the past five years with the biggest leap into the top 30 (85 -> 51 -> 46 -> 40 > 30). The biggest ranking drop in the last five years from the top 30 is from Malaysian Airlines (14 -> 31).
- Airline alliance members took 22 out of 30 placings with eleven Star Alliance airlines making the list
- The surveys show that flyers prefer airlines that are consistent and don’t suffer many delays. Some airlines use a fuel card to ensure they know all their planes are well fueled and won’t have to make any detours or cause any delays.
- Most of the airlines are from the Asia / Pacific region (17 out of 30 placings). Only one is from the Americas (Air Canada).
- Most of the airlines are classified as full service but Virgin Australia taking the highest place as a low cost carrier hybrid (i.e. low cost pricing model with some full service perks as add ons)
- Premium Economy cabin is gaining grounds as 21 out of 30 airlines has it with Austrian soon to join the list (News)
Customers are asked to fill in surveys (using a 1 to 5 scale) at airports, on board (may be requested in a voluntary basis by an airline) or online. Scores are weighted based on size of the airline and include the following items.
|GROUND / AIRPORT||ONBOARD PRODUCT||CABIN SERVICE|
How Can Airlines Use The Results?
Many airlines use the Skytrax survey as one of many tools to gauge their performance on the world’s stage. Good results are likely used in marketing campaigns to entice potential first time or repeated customers in flying with the airline. Larger full service airlines typically suffer from this type of survey because they may have regional and long haul components offering big differences in amenities and service. In this case, the person flying in a wide body international first class may have a vastly different opinion than someone on board a regional single class flight. It is better for the airline to set up the right expectation so that customers would have an enjoyable experience regardless of the flight.
Many of the items in the Skytrax methodology can be managed through technology. Delta Air Lines, for example, is introducing new biometrics trials with goals to speed up boarding at its Atlanta and New York JFK hubs (News). The use of communication technologies such as Apple Messages and Facebook Messenger (News) will change how customers would be engaged as a way to reduce travel anxiety. Mobile application design and deployment, which are not in Skytrax methodology, is playing a bigger role in how quickly and timely passengers are being serviced.
What Else Do Airlines Do To Obtain Feedback?
Some airlines take Skytrax ranking with a grain of salt as they believe the surveys does not provide consistent results, may be completed by untrained passengers who may be biased (based on culture practices or influenced by current news) or may not have enough experience to rank a product from 1 o 5 in comparison with others. Some airlines may deploy a secret shopping program to obtain more instant and quantifiable notes from trained personnel. Others include a feedback tool in the in flight entertainment to obtain feedback before the passenger arrives at the destination.
For more in depth analysis, airlines hire or conduct their own group discussions with frequent and casual flyers in major cities. This analysis can play an integral part for the airline to evaluate 1. current service levels and whether it is meeting internal metrics, 2. future product and service offering and 3. how change of service may affect the travel experience.