19 Jun 2017 - 22:19
"People will not forget," Akbar Al Baker told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the Paris Air Show.
20 Jun 2017 - 20:40
Doha: Qatar can feel proud of the fact that it’s state-owned airline is once again the world’s top-ranked carrier.
Qatar Airways reclaimed the No. 1 spot in this year’s Skytrax awards, a coveted list of the leading 100 airlines announced on the second day of the Paris Air Show. Qatar unseated Emirates, which slipped to fourth. The rankings are based on an annual passenger survey.
Second and third position went to Singapore Airlines and ANA All Nippon Airways.
In addition to being voted Best Airline by travellers from around the world, Qatar’s national carrier also won a raft of other major awards at the ceremony, including Best Airline in the Middle East, World’s Best Business Class and World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge. Qatar Airways' home and hub, Hamad International Airport, was this year also rated five-star by Skytrax, one of only five in the world to be given this recognition.
Akbar al Baker, Qatar Airways’s chief executive officer, used the platform to make an impromptu speech in which he condemned the blockade of Qatar, which he had previously likened to the Soviet siege of West Berlin after World War II.
"At these difficult times of illegal bans on flights out of my country by big bullies, this is an award not to me, not to my airline, but to my country," Al Baker said after being handed the microphone at the ceremony’s climax.
Tensions between Qatar, one of the world’s richest countries and the biggest producer of liquefied natural gas, and its neighbours are escalating after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates cut diplomatic relations and closed transport routes three weeks ago. Qatar Airways has closed 52 routes, with remaining services forced into diversions ranging from five minutes to two hours to avoid closed airspace.
Deutsche Lufthansa AG managed to improve its ranking by three slots to the seventh position, making it the only European carrier in the Top 10 and the only airline not from Asia or the Persian Gulf. At the same time it failed to secure a five-star ranking, something it has been targeting since 2015, though CEO Carsten Spohr pledged to get there soon. Only nine airline hold the status, seven from Asia and two from the Middle East.
Check out the list of Top 100 Airlines in 2017
There are no US companies featured in the Top 20 of the survey’s rankings, which cover more than 325 airlines and are a powerful marketing tool to attract more high-spending business or leisure travelers. Turkish Airlines tumbled out of the Top 10 list, having been placed 7th last year.
Skytrax also hands out awards for various sub-categories, which include best cabin staff, best in-flight entertainment or best low-cost airline.