Top 20 airlines in the world: Air New Zealand takes win from Qatar, Etihad ranks third

Dubai's Emirates moves into top 10, climbing six spots since last year

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Air New Zealand is the world’s best airline in 2023 according to Airline Ratings, an aviation safety and product rating website.

The Kiwi airline knocks Qatar Airways off the top spot, moving the Gulf airline into second place after two years at number one.

Lauded for its operational safety, commitment to making flying more sustainable and its friendly staff, Air New Zealand takes the crowning rank for the seventh time.

The airline also wins praise for its in-flight innovations, in particular its Skynest economy bunk-beds. Set to be rolled out on ultra-long-haul flights from September next year, these sleep pods will be the world’s first three-storey, lie-flat bunk-beds on a commercial airline.

Air New Zealand's new Skynest bunk beds will be introduced in September next year. Photo: Air New Zealand

“Like all airlines across the globe Air New Zealand has faced severe disruptions during and after the pandemic and this year huge challenges from storms and cyclones. The airline has responded well. Our editorial team was impressed by the airline’s commitment to the economy passenger and on long haul offers more comfort options than any other airline,” said Airline Ratings editor-in-chief, Geoffrey Thomas.

Second placed Qatar Airways may have slipped off the top spot in the overall rankings, but the Gulf carrier retains its position as the airline with the best business class service for the fourth-year running. It also takes the award for the best in-flight catering.

Etihad is the world's third best airline in 2023, winning praise for its commitment to making flying greener. Photo: Etihad

Etihad Airways holds strong to its third placed ranking from last year. The national airline of the UAE has been commended for its commitment to making flying greener, which is a benchmark for the aviation industry, according to Thomas.

“Etihad Airways has demonstrated its leadership in the push for sustainable flight with its Greenliner Boeing 787 programme and last year with its Sustainability 50, A350 aircraft.

“In every aspect, Etihad Airways staff and management are committed to reducing the airline’s CO2 footprint and it shows. The rallying phrase is ‘a million things count’ in reducing emissions and thus the focus is all-consuming. The airline’s Sustainability Report 2021-2022 demonstrates the potential advancements to be made in sustainable aviation by a wide range of initiatives, co-ordinated to achieve a 20 per cent reduction in emissions intensity in its passenger fleet by 2025, to cut 2019 net emissions by 50 per cent by 2035, and to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.”

Korean Airlines and Singapore Airlines round out the top five best airlines in the world list in 2023, with Singapore also taking home the award for having the world's best first class cabins.

Emirates has the world's best premium economy cabins says Airline Ratings. Photo: Emirates

Emirates ranks in tenth place, an improvement on the Dubai airline's performance last year when it listed at number 16.

The airline – which has just announced Hollywood A-lister Penelope Cruz as its newest ambassador – wins awards for the world’s best in-flight entertainment, and the top premium economy cabins – a service that Emirates officially rolled out on selected routes in August last year.

And when it comes to the airline with the friendliest crew, Virgin Australia/Virgin Atlantic scoops the award, while Australia’s Qantas is named the airline with the best lounges for travellers.

Top 20 airlines in the world in 2023 – full list

1. Air New Zealand

2. Qatar Airways

3. Etihad Airways

4. Korean Air

5. Singapore Airlines

6. Qantas

7. Virgin Australia/Virgin Atlantic

8. EVA Air

9. Cathay Pacific Airways

10. Emirates

11. Lufthansa / Swiss

12. SAS

13. TAP Portugal

14. All Nippon Airways

15. Delta Air Lines

16. Air Canada

17. British Airways

18. Jet Blue

19. JAL

20. Vietnam Airlines

Updated: May 31, 2023, 2:05 AM