Swiss has taken the title of best short-haul airline in the 2017 Telegraph Travel Awards, based on the opinions of almost 90,000 readers, while Singapore Airlines has been named number one for long haul.
Switzerland’s flag carrier rose from 2nd place in 2016 to claim the top spot from British Airways. BA, which has endured a tough couple of years, slipped dramatically down the rankings to 13th overall. Icelandair came second ahead of Channel Island carrier Aurigny.
Singapore Airlines climbed from second spot last year to supplant Emirates at the top of the table and reclaim the award it last won in 2014. Emirates came second, ahead of Qatar Airways, which rose to third from its position of sixth in 2016.
The 10 best long-haul airlines, according to you
- Singapore Airlines (+1)
- Emirates (-1)
- Qatar Airways (+3)
- Air New Zealand (-1)
- Virgin Atlantic (-1)
- All Nippon Airways (+5)
- Korean Air (+3)
- Thai Airways International (+5)
- Cathay Pacific (=)
- Etihad (-2)
Nick Trend, Telegraph Travel’s consumer expert, said: “Telegraph readers are enthusiastic long-haul fliers – many of your favourite destinations are many hours away, and so this category is one of the most crucial. Singapore Airlines and Emirates have been trading places at the top of the table since 2012. Last year, Emirates took the prize, but in 2017, Singapore has wrestled it back once more.
“What’s the secret to its consistency? Perhaps in the end it comes down to the fact that it needs to work hard to win its passengers. A tiny country of five million people is not enough to sustain a major international airline, so Singapore has to gain the loyalty of passengers from elsewhere.
“It does this with excellent training, world-leading standard of service in the cabin, and a long history of investing heavily in technology – it has a young fleet, and many of its longer flights are on the new A380 planes – the double-decker super-jumbos which are so much more comfortable to fly in that the old Boeing 747s.
“It also has the advantage of an excellent strategic base. Singapore is a convenient gateway to Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia and other popular desinations in South-East Asia, and it also makes an easy, stress-free stop-over for passengers en route from the UK to Australia and New Zealand.
“In third place is Qatar Airways – another well-funded Middle-Eastern carrier – which enters the fray for the first time, displacing Air New Zealand and Virgin, which have traditionally vied for third place.”
The best short-haul airlines, according to you
- Swiss (+1)
- Icelandair (-1)
- Aurigny Air (+1)
- Jet2 (+2)
- KLM (=)
- Austrian Airlines (+4)
- Lufthansa (=)
- Air Malta (+4)
- Aer Lingus (+2)
- CityJet (+5)
Of the short-haul awards, Nick Trend said: “No-frills airlines may continue to expand, but they have yet to win over readers’ hearts. Instead, Swiss – the national carrier for Switzerland – which has been the bridesmaid to British Airways for the last five years, tops the table.
“Of course, this result is a tribute to that old cliche of ‘Swiss efficiency’ but there is no doubt that service on board is slick and passenger-focused and it is this which has helped Swiss maintain its distance from the no-frills carriers.
“Like most airlines on short-haul routes, it has trimmed away at costs and the extras it offers to passengers – its economy ‘light’ fare now includes only hand luggage. But even on short-haul flights, you do get a free aperitif, snack or meal (depending on the length of the flight and time of day). No doubt too, readers’ experience is enhanced by the civilised atmosphere of Switzerland’s airports – Zurich is a particularly good example.
“In second place, Icelandair has also been an admirably consistent performer, taking third prize in our last three surveys, and now moving up to second. Finally there is a surprise at number three. Aurigny Air, in case you haven’t heard of it, is the tiny airline whose single jet and handful turbo-prop planes serves the Channel islands of Guernsey and also tiny Alderney. The fleet includes three Trislander planes which seat only 15 passengers.”
Singapore Airlines and Swiss were presented with their gongs in a ceremony at the Heron Tower in London on Friday.
The Telegraph Travel Awards have charted the the fortunes of the airline industry, as judged by our readers, for years.
Singapore Airlines claims the top spot just a month after it launched an overhaul of its A380 jets, with four classes of cabin receiving renovations.
The airline, which carries around 22.8 million people a year, operates out of the UK from Manchester and London Heathrow, from where it flies direct to Singapore Changi.
Closer to home, Swiss has enjoyed a year in which it has introduced new Bombardier CS300s to its fleet, a plane regarded as one of the most comfortable in the skies.
The Swiss airline operates from five UK airports, including three in London, Manchester and Birmingham, serving its hubs in Geneva and Zurich.
This year’s Travel Awards also represent a success for Icelandair, which climbed from third to second, Austrian Airlines, rising from 10th to sixth, and budget operator Jet2 which rose from sixth to fourth.
Monarch, which collapsed in October, enjoyed a successful final year in the eyes of our readers, most of whom voted before its failure, climbing from 14th to 11th. EasyJet, the UK’s second biggest carrier behind BA, fell from ninth to 15th. Ryanair, meanwhile, came last out of 25 short-haul airlines to feature in the poll, just behind Iberia and Air Europa.