Skytrax World Airline Awards 2021: Qatar Airways named world's best airline as Singapore Airlines, ANA also win big

By Gabriel Power | 30 Sep 2021 | Travel, Design, Technology

Known as the Oscars of the aviation industry, Tuesday's ceremony saw the Qatari flag carrier secure top spot for a record sixth time

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Qatar Airways has been crowned Airline of the Year by the international air transport rating organisation Skytrax, in a ceremony that saw the airline rack up six major awards.

The airline, which serves as the flag carrier for the Gulf state of Qatar, has long been lauded as one of the most luxurious on the market due to the quality of its amenities, catering, punctuality and comfort.

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* A typical first class configuration on the Qatar Airways Airbus A380

At its annual award ceremony, colloquially known as the Oscars of the aviation industry, Skytrax handed the Qatari brand the top prize for a record sixth time, having previously named it the world’s best airline in 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017 and 2019. The awards were not held in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Second place in the main category went to Singapore Airlines, itself a winner of the top prize in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2018. Two titans of the industry, neither Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways have fallen below third place since 2009.

Meanwhile, Japanese brand All Nippon Airways (ANA) finished third for the fourth year in a row.

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The 2021 Skytrax awards covered the period from September 2019 to July 2021 with the results reflecting a mix of more normal travel times combined with travel during the pandemic. 

The company stated that the “extended period clearly demonstrated the resilience and flexibility of Qatar Airways, as it not only delivered continued excellence during normal times, but steadfastly continued flights and offered a lifeline to its customers across the globe during the most challenging of times”. 

Here is a list of the big winners from Tuesday’s ceremony:

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Qatar Airways

Awards won:

Airline of the Year 2021
Best Airline in the Middle East
World's Best Business Class
World's Best Business Class Seat
World's Best Business Class Airline Lounge
Best Business Class Onboard Catering

There's no question that Qatar Airways will go home the happiest following Tuesday's ceremony, racking up six awards in notably prestigious categories, along with a special edition COVID-19 Airline Excellence Award which was also given to 40 other airlines.

Furthermore, Qatar Airways' success at the ceremony comes just one month after its hub airport, Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, picked up the award for Best Airport in the World at Skytrax's 2021 World Airport Awards in August.

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Singapore Airlines

Awards won:

World's Best Airline Cabin Staff
Best Airline in Asia
World's Best First Class
World's Best First Class Seat
Best Economy Class Onboard Catering

Singapore Airlines, a heavyweight in its own right, secured second place in the overall Best Airline category, but took the top prize in a number of other fields. The airline took home wins in categories including World’s Best Cabin Crew, and was also honoured with awards for the World’s Best First Class, the Best Airline in Asia and the World’s Best First Class Seat.

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ANA All Nippon Airways

Awards won:

World's Best Airline Cabin Cleanliness
World's Best Airport Services
Best Airline Staff in Asia
Best First Class Lounge in Asia

Despite failing to break the top two and remaining stuck in third place for the fourth year in a row, ANA All Nippon Airways racked up a number of prestigious awards for its services. For a start, it continued its record of offering excellent airport facilities, picking up the top prize in the World’s Best Airport Services category and the Best First Class Lounge in Asia.

Furthermore, winning the 2021 award as the World’s Cleanest Airline is a particularly high profile success during the global pandemic.

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Delta Airlines

Awards won:

Best Airline in North America
Best Premium Economy Class Airline Seat
Best Business Class in North America
Best Premium Economy Class in North America

Despite only landing 30th place in the World's Best Airline category, Delta had a surprisingly good night, racking up wins in four categories - as many as ANA and only beaten by Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines.

Notably, the airline picked up multiple awards for its business and premium economy offerings.

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Japan Airlines

Awards won:

World's Best Economy Class
Best Economy Class Airline Seat
Best Economy Class in Asia

Japan Airlines, a direct competitor to ANA, was one of six airlines to rack up three wins at the awards ceremony, alongside British Airways, Turkish Airlines, Air Canada, Lufthansa and Air France.

But for our money Japan Airlines stands out from the pack by taking the top spot in the World's Best Economy Class category, while the other airlines with three wins mainly picked up more region-specific awards.