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And the world's new No.1 airline for 2017 is ...

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 21/06/2017 Ben Mutzabaugh
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Qatar Airways was tabbed as the world's best airline in 2017, according to the annual World Airline Awards published by Skytrax.

Qatar’s title continues a back-and-forth battle for No. 1 between it and Gulf rival Emirates, also known for its high-end service and luxurious premium cabins. Emirates finished atop Skytrax’s World Airline Awards last year, when it took the top spot back from Qatar Airways.

This year, Emirates dropped to No. 4, placing behind No. 2 Singapore Airlines and No. 3 All Nippon Airways (ANA). Cathay Pacific rounded out the top five of the ratings, which were announced Tuesday on the sidelines of the biennial Paris Air Show.

For Qatar Airways, the award comes as a bright spot during what's otherwise been a difficult period for the carrier. The Doha-based airline is one of those affected by a U.S. ban on large carry-on electronics, putting it at a passenger-experience disadvantage against competitors unaffected by the ban. 

And a diplomatic spat between Qatar and nearby Middle East nations has forced it to scrap flights to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, among others. Also vexing for Qatar Airways is that those nations have closed off their airspaces to flights from Qatar. That's forced many flights from Doha -- where Qatar Airways operates a major hub -- to take circuitous routings to avoid the restrictions.

In North America, Air Canada took the title for “Best Airline in North America.” Overall, the carrier placed 29th in the global ratings.

Skytrax, a U.K.-based travel consultancy that runs what it calls the "world's largest review site," determines the winners of its annual World Airline Awards from reviews by more than 18 million passengers that represent more than 100 countries. At No. 1 for 2017: Qatar Airways © Qatar Airways Skytrax, a U.K.-based travel consultancy that runs what it calls the "world's largest review site," determines the winners of its annual World Airline Awards from reviews by more than 18 million passengers that represent more than 100 countries. At No. 1 for 2017: Qatar Airways Delta was the top ranked U.S. carrier in the World Airline Awards, placing 32nd overall. Virgin America, which had the highest rating among U.S. carriers in 2016, dropped 18 spots to No. 43. That made it fourth among U.S. carriers in the ratings, trailing Delta, Alaska Airlines (No. 36 globally) and JetBlue (No. 39). Alaska Airlines acquired Virgin America in a deal that closed late last year, kicking off a merger that will eventually have both carriers flying under the Alaska Airlines brand. 

The Skytrax awards are one of several annual consumer-focused rankings covering the airline industry. Travel + Leisure magazine’s ratings are due out later this summer, when the magazine will reveal if Singapore Airlines has retained its title as the world's top carrier in that list. Emirates was the runner-up in those ratings while Qatar Airways placed third.

In May, Southwest and JetBlue each won their respective airline categories in the annual J.D. Power customer service satisfaction survey of North American carriers. A month before that, Alaska Airlines edged out Delta for the top spot in another ranking – this one the 2017 Airline Quality Rating report.

As for the Skytrax awards, the win was the fourth overall title for Qatar Airways since the ratings launched in 1999.

Skytrax, which explains its rankings methodology here, bills its World Airline Awards as “the world’s largest, annual airline passenger satisfaction survey.” The group says 19.87 million eligible survey entries were counted in the final 2017 results. The survey period stretched from August 2016 through May 2017 and included participation from travelers of 105 nationalities. More than 325 airlines were included in the survey.

The top 25 of the Skytrax rankings were:

1. Qatar Airways 

2. Singapore Airlines 

3. All Nippon Airways (ANA) 

4. Emirates 

5. Cathay Pacific

6. EVA Air

7. Lufthansa 

8. Etihad Airways 

9. Hainan Airlines

10. Garuda Indonesia

11. Thai Airways

12. Turkish Airlines

13. Virgin Australia

14. Swiss International Air Lines 

15. Qantas Airways

16. Japan Airlines (JAL)

17. Austrian Airlines

18. Air France

19. Air New Zealand

20. Asiana Airlines

21. Bangkok Airways

22. KLM 

23. China Southern

24. Hong Kong Airlines

25. Finnair

   

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