Every year, Skytrax publishes its annual airline customer satisfaction survey. The survey ranks airlines across the world from best to worst based on customer experience. Although so many airlines are nominated each year, all eyes are on the top 100. Regrettably, this year’s award will be delayed until September. According to Skytrax, the decision is to allow all Airlines to participate in the event.
As the CEO of Skytrax, Edward Plaisted points out, the past two years were challenging for the airline industry, globally. This is due to the travel restrictions that were imposed as a control measure for COVID-19. But if you’re eager to know how African airlines fare, compared to others around the world, then keep reading to find out.
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The World Airline Award 2021
The survey for the award was done between September 2019 to July 2021 (a total of 23 months). As usual, the final decision rested on the customer’s votes. In 2021, about 13.4 million airline users participated in the survey. This underpins the award’s reputation as the Passenger’s Choice Award. 350 airlines were ranked by customers from over 100 countries across the world.
The customers indicated how satisfying their overall experience was, on a scale of 1 to 5. The areas covered in the survey included COVID-19 protocols in place, Cabin service, Ground and Airport services, and onboard products. There was no reward for participating in the survey, participation was voluntary.
The Top 100 Airlines in the world
Among the top 100 airlines in the world, these three airlines have remained at the top since 2019. They are Qatar Airways (UAE), Singapore Airlines (Singapore), and ANA AII Nippon Airways (Japan). These are the first, second, and third best airlines in the world (respectively), as of 2021. At the bottom of the list, we have Citilink, STARLUX Airlines, and Avianca. Some airlines were ranked higher in 2021 compared to previous years.
For instance, Air France went from the 23rd position in 2019 to the 10th position in 2021. While Thai Airways dropped from the 10th position to the 23rd position within the same period of time. As for African Airlines, here are the top 10 according to the World Airline Award.
#1. Ethiopian Airlines
Government-owned Ethiopian Airlines is the best in Africa. Ethiopian Airlines became operational in 1945. A few years after launching, the airline was already pioneering the latest aircraft technology in Africa. This includes the lunch of the first Jet service in 1962, the first B787 Dreamliner, and the first A350 XWB in Africa.
Ethiopian Airlines is also a member of the Star Alliance, the largest airline network in the world. The airline provides flights to 93 international locations. 31 in Africa, 17 in Europe and the Americas, and 25 in the Middle East and Asia. In addition to this, it also serves domestic destinations.
#2. South African Airways
South African Airways (SAA) is the second-best airline in the world. The South African flag carrier covers 35 destinations across Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Australia, and the Americas. The SAA became operational in 1934 and over the years, it has won several awards and recognitions. These include 14 Skytrax awards for Best African Airliner and the first 4-Star rating in Africa. South African Airways is also a founding member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). In 2006, it became a member of the Star Alliance network after 40 years of absence.
#3. Kenya Airways
Kenya Airways is one of the leading African airlines based in Kenya, Nairobi. It began operations in 1977, shortly after the East African Airways was dissolved. Kenya Airways is the nation’s flag carrier and covers 54 destinations in Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. In 2006, Kenya Airways won the African Airline of the Year award for the fifth time. In 2007 it was associated with the second largest airline network in the world, the SkyTeam Airline Alliance. Later achieving full membership in 2010.
#4. Royal Air Maroc
The Royal Air Maroc or RAM is the largest Airline in Morocco. It is owned by the Moroccan government and is also a member of the Oneworld Alliance. It was founded 69 years ago in 1953. The airline has a total fleet size of 52 and covers more than 100 destinations in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. Royal Air Maroc provides both medium and long-haul flights across its various destinations.
#5. Air Mauritius
Air Mauritius is a member of the Vanilla Alliance. It has a total of 9 fleets that serve 22 destinations. Through its Alliance, Air Mauritius expands its base of operations to include the Indian Ocean Commission members. The airline currently offers direct flights to 7 destinations in Europe, India, Africa, and the Indian Ocean. Flights to other destinations are scheduled to resume later this year. Air Mauritius is given a 4-Star rating by SkyTrax. It is also the winner of both the Indian Ocean’s Leading Airline Economy Class Award and Leading Airline Brand in 2021.
#6. Air Seychelles
Another national airline, Air Seychelles is one of the best airlines in Africa. The airline is operated by the government of Seychelles and owns 7 fleets. It is a member of the Vanilla Alliance and offers over 350 domestic flights and charter services. It also serves international destinations like Abu Dhabi, Johannesburg, Mauritius, and Mumbai. Air Seychelles received a 4-Star rating from SkyTrax in 2014. The airline won two World Travel Awards, Leading Cabin Crew and the Leading Business Class in the Indian Ocean.
RwandAir is a member of the International Air Transport Association and the national carrier for Rwanda. Founded in 2002 as Rwandair, the airliner later rebranded as RwandAir in 2009. It is owned and operated by the government of Rwanda and has a fleet size of 12. RwandAir provides services across 29 destinations in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
FlySafair is South Africa’s low-cost airline. It started operating in 2014. However, it has quickly grown to become one of the best airlines in Africa. FlySafair is a subsidiary of Safair and offers domestic flights to 7 destinations in South Africa. These include Cape Town, George, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg, Lanseria, Durban, and East London. The airline operates off the base of Cape Town International Airport, OR International Airport, and King Shaka International airport. Its total fleet consists of 16 Boeing aircraft.
EgyptAir was founded in 1932 making it one of the oldest airlines in the world. It is also a member of the largest body of airlines, the Star Alliance. Through the Alliance, EgyptAir can provide more flight connections and a better flying experience to its customers. It is also the only airline in North Africa and the Middle East that is part of the Network.
EgyptAir boasts a fleet of more than 65 aircraft for both long and short-haul flights. It is owned by the government of Egypt and flies to more than 70 domestic and international destinations. EgyptAir received a platinum award from the IATA in 2016. It was also given Africa’s Leading Airline Award for business class by the World Travel Awards in 2011.
Fastjet is a low-cost airline with three subsidiaries in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Tanzania. However, in 2018 and 2019, Fastjet Zimbabwe ceased operations with its subsidiaries in Tanzania and Mozambique respectively. The airline has been recognized as Africa’s leading low-cost airline by the World Travel Awards and SkyTrax. Fastjet Zimbabwe has a fleet of 4 aircraft operating mainly on domestic flights and one international flight to Johannesburg, South Africa. It has a rating of 3-Star by SkyTrax.
Aviation in Africa is a very competitive industry, and state-owned airlines seem to be winning. The best airlines in Africa all have one specific area where they excel. It is either they offer an excellent customer experience or a very competitive fare. For the past three years, Ethiopian Airways held claim to the top spot on the list. However, the competition is not sleeping, and come September, a new champion may emerge. Who do you think it will be? Let us know in the comment section below.