Etihad Airways has been recognised for its health and safety measures implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The national airline of the UAE has been awarded Diamond status in the first Airline Passenger Experience Association (Apex) Health Safety ratings.
The Abu Dhabi airline is considered one of the world’s safest when it comes to hygiene standards, having achieved the highest standard available in the independently verified 58-point assessment.
Etihad is one of only nine airlines in the world to achieve Diamond status in the safety rating by one of the world's largest international airline associations.
Other recipients include Saudia, Qatar Airways, United, Alaska, Singapore Airlines, Air Canada, Virgin Atlantic and Turkish Airlines.
To achieve the highest status, airlines must prove to Apex that they fulfil several critical points during a traveller’s journey. These are divided into categories and assess check-in procedures, testing and tracing, airport facilities, security, lounge facilities, boarding procedures, in-flight and arrival measures and sanitisation partnerships.
"Etihad Airways has raised the bar for health safety standards in the industry by initiatives such as Wellness Ambassadors, free PCR Covid-19 tests and using AI to identify high-risk passengers at its hub in Abu Dhabi. Taking such hospital-grade measures in ensuring health safety goes a long way in bolstering trust among travellers," said Shashank Nigam, chief executive of SimpliFlying, which audits the airlines' standards.
The rating aims to be a new global health standard for airlines that can self-register for their assessment. The Apex Health Safety provides a rating, rather than a ranking, as the airline association does not want health and safety to be a way for airlines to compete with one another.
100 per cent negative testing policy
"2020 brought tremendous challenges to the aviation industry, and the Diamond status is testament to the strength of Etihad's health and safety credentials and response to the pandemic," said Terry Daly, executive director of guest experience, brand and marketing at Etihad Aviation Group.
"Etihad has demonstrated its resilience and designed industry-leading measures to combat Covid-19, including the Etihad Wellness programme. As part of its efforts, Etihad is the only airline in the world to make Covid-19 testing mandatory before every flight, and since August 2020, 100 per cent of our guests have tested negative before they fly," said Daly.
Etihad's Diamond status follows the airline's Five Star Apex rating. The Abu Dhabi airline was given this rating in December. Based on passenger feedback from nearly one million flights across more than 600 airlines, the Apex Official Airline Ratings are independently certified by a professional external auditing company.