World's best airlines in 2021: Emirates ranks in the top 10

Etihad came in at No 21 and Saudia is the 'most improved' airline in the world at the passenger-nominated Skytrax awards

Emirates ranks fourth in the 2021 Skytrax awards. Photo: Adam Schreck / AP
Powered by automated translation

At a time when air travel is slowly returning after restrictions imposed during the global pandemic, the results of the 2021 Skytrax awards have been announced.

Voting for the awards by the international air transport rating organisation was extended from September 2019 until July 2021 because of what Skytrax said was “a catastrophic period for the world airline industry, as passenger demand plummeted and countries across the world were affected by lockdowns and severe travel restrictions”.

The customer survey ran for 23 months, meaning this year's awards cover travel during normal times and through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dubai’s Emirates Airline ranked in the top 10 list of the best airlines in the world in 2021. The airline ranked fourth out of more than 350 airlines. Etihad, the national airline of the UAE, ranked 21st in the world.

Topping the rankings is Qatar Airways. The Gulf airline pushed Singapore Airlines from the top spot to claim its place as Airline of the Year.

Singapore held its own in second position, and Japan's All Nippon Airways ranked in third.

The World’s Top 10 Airlines in 2021 by Skytrax

  1. Qatar Airways
  2. Singapore Airlines
  3. ANA All Nippon Airways, Japan
  4. Emirates, UAE
  5. Japan Airlines
  6. Cathay Pacific Airways, Hong Kong
  7. EVA Air, Taiwan
  8. Qantas Airways, Australia
  9. Hainan Airlines, China
  10. Air France

As well as ranking in fourth place, Emirates also took top honours in two other categories. It was named No 1 for Best Airline Inflight Entertainment and also dominated for First Class Cabins in the Middle East, beating out overall winner Qatar Airways in this category.

The Dubai airline was also awarded a Covid-19 Excellence Award. This title was given to airlines that customers said had the highest safety standards during the global pandemic.

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad also received a Covid-19 Excellence Award. The airline was the first in the world to fully vaccinate its crew on board and also requires 100 per cent of its passengers to show a negative PCR test before boarding any flight to any destination.

Saudia is 'most improved' airline in the world

Saudia, formerly known as Saudi Arabian Airlines, was named the World's Most Improved Airline at the Skytrax 2021 awards.

The kingdom's national airline recorded a 55 per cent improvement this year, the most by any airline. This moved it up in the overall global rankings to 26th position, from being 57th in 2019.

It ranked first in the category ahead of Rwandair, which was in second place, and South America's JetSmart, which came in third.

Updated: June 23, 2023, 3:43 PM