LAST YEAR was a strange year for the airline industry as many airlines grounded their planes due to the COVID-19 pandemic which restricted travel.

But as air travel returns in some regions, has released its annual roundup of the world’s best airlines, ready to help pilots decide which airline to choose to re-travel by air.

The Australia-based product and aviation safety rating agency compiles the Airline Excellence Awards based on criteria including fleet age, passenger reviews and product offerings.

This year, the team also included the airline’s response to COVID-19. As a result, for 2021, Qatar Airways rose to the top of the rankings as the best airline beating previous winner Air New Zealand which has topped the list six times over the past few years and this year dropped to number two.

According to Geoffrey Thomas, the editor-in-chief of said that Qatar Airways response to the pandemic was top rated. Qatar Airways has always been highly ranked in our rankings, winning numerous awards such as best business class. But it is the airline’s commitment to keeping its route network open that has won the praise of the judges.

Thomas also pointed to the airline’s repatriation flights, and its commitment to making the pandemic flying experience as safe as possible.

“ usually announces the best airline rankings in November, in anticipation of next year. However, the pandemic forced this aviation safety and product rating agency to change everything. We pushed the 2021 announcement to 2021 due to the chaos of COVID-19 and we wanted to see how the industry would handle the pandemic over a longer period of time before making a choice,” Thomas remarked.

Usually, he continued that profitability is one of the main factors judges judge when they rank the top airlines. However, due to the sharp financial impact of COVID-19 on the aviation industry, finances were not a consideration this year.

“We had to cancel it this year because almost all airlines were losing money. Joining Qatar Airways and Air New Zealand in the top five this year is Singapore Airlines at number three. Singapore Airlines previously won the best airline award in 2019,” Thomas concluded. [sources/ special photo]