Every time, I open my mouth and criticise Qantas, I get push back from Qantas staff and from some Qantas loyalists. Yet, the cadre of passengers I talk to are fed up with an airline that keeps on Jetstar-izing (cheapening) its service.
And it seems we have some vindication. In 2005 and 2006, Qantas was rated the second best airline in the world by the World Airline Awards. In 2008, it took third place. By 2010, Qantas had fallen to eighth place. This year, Qantas was given 15th place. This is the first time, it has been out of the top ten airlines of the world- ever. Consumers, in this Skytrax survey are clearly less happy with Qantas than they used to be.
- Qatar Airways (second time in a row)
- Asiana Airlines (2011: 3rd)
- Singapore Airlines (2nd) *
- Cathay Pacific Airways (4th) *
- ANA All Nippon Airways (11th )
- Etihad Airways (6th)*
- Turkish Airlines ( 9th )
- Emirates ( 10th )*
- Thai Airways ( 5th )*
- Malaysia Airlines (12th)
- Garuda Indonesia (19th)
- Virgin Australia (32nd) *
- EVA Air (16th)
- Lufthansa (15th)*
- Qantas Airways (8th)*
- Korean Air (24th)
- Air New Zealand (7th)*
- Swiss Int’l Air Lines (13th)*
- Air Canada (21st)*
- Hainan Airlines (23rd)
*The ones marked with an asterix are the carriers I have flown. I confess I have only flown just over half the list -and Qatar has not yet been one of them. Of the Top 20 carriers, nine are Star Alliance (with Eva about to join next year), two are One World (with Malaysia about to join) and one is a Skyteam member (with Garuda expected to join in 2014) and the five are not part of those three major alliances.
Qantas redeemed itself in this year’s awards with Top Gong for:
- Sydney Airport First class lounge (well deserved-it is amazing)
- Best Premium Economy class (it is an impressive product)
- Best Premium Economy class catering (am surprised)
The official Qantas statement blamed the Union action for the dismal results. I myself point the finger at management who grounded the entire fleet for three days. The question is what is Qantas going to do about this? I accept much of their economic woes can be blamed on the bad global economy in combination with the high Australia dollar. They must, however, be losing custom from premium passengers who are being offered better products on newer planes by customer focused carriers. We have seen much pontificating about new strategies for Qantas but apart from a company re-organisation, we have not seen much action at Qantas main line. Its got to happen now. The Qatar relationship may be the way back but some better communication with the public and staff would help.
The other major plunge was for Air New Zealand which fell from 7th to 17th. I am not sure why Air New Zealand was punished so hard. Two years ago in April, 2010, they introduced their “Choice” fares on their Pacific services with four types of fares. The idea is that passengers choose what they want to pay for. My experience is that people find it confusing and I have seen some annoyance on flights when meals are served to some and not others. Even though people have chosen a fare type without meals, there were some who resented their neighbour getting food. Frequent Flyers did not seem excited by these options. I wonder if that has had an impact? Personally, I have found Air New Zealand an on going delight. They remain one of my favourite airlines.
Over at Virgin Australia, there was a massive jump from 32nd to 12th ahead of Qantas. Expect to hear about that for a while from Virgin. The airline is already locked in a Business Class war with Qantas. The result has been mega cheap business fares. That has got to be hurting Qantas. The jump in status, reflects the on going transformation from budget to full service carrier. Virgin was also awarded best airline in the Australia-Pacific region plus its staff were considered best in the region.
Korean also jumped from 24th to 16th place. I wonder how much of that has been the impact of their new A380s.
Significantly, not one US airline made it into the Top 2o. I was also disappointed that LAN, who I think are superb didn’t make it either.
Other awards included:
- Best low cost carrier (AirAsia*)
- Best domestic airline in North America: (JetBlue*)
- Best low-cost carrier for Australia-Pacific (Jetstar*)
- Best low-cost airline in North America (Virgin America*)
- Best First Class (Etihad*)
- Best First Class seats (Cathay Pacific*)
- Best Business Class seats (Oman Air)
- Best premium economy seats (Turkish Airlines)
- Best airline economy-class meals (Thai Airways*)
- Best economy class airline seat (Thai Airways*)
- Best inflight entertainment (Emirates*)
How do these awards match up with your experiences?