Abu Dhabi takes personal service to the next level. So does Dubai and neighboring Qatar. Abu Dhabi’s national airline – Etihad Airways, and Dubai’s airline – Emirates, and Qatar’s national airline – Qatar Airways – consistently rank on Skytrax’s list of Top Ten Best Airlines in the World. Skytrax is a premier UK-based aviation research organization for reviewing and ranking the world’s airlines.
For 2012, Qatar rated #1 Best Airline in the World (also in 2011), Etihad rated #6, and Emirates rated #8. Of interest, all of the airlines on the 2012 Top Ten List are located in the Far East, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, excluding Turkish Airlines at #10. All of the airlines on the Top Ten List are also rated 4-5 star. By comparison, US carriers – American, Delta and United – are rated 3-star.
Etihad was judged Best 1st Class Airline Seat at the 2012 World Airlines Awards. Singapore Airlines, always at or near the top, rated #2.
Why are the past decade’s top-ranked airlines consistently from many Far Eastern, Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern countries? (1) Cultural tradition places a high value on making guests comfortable. (2) The wealth growth-curve in many of these emerging locales is enormous.
Take Dubai’s Emirates as a representative example — As of December 2012, Emirates’ fleet of aircraft numbers 191, with firm orders for another 192 and options for 70 more. (Etihad has 90 aircraft on firm order.) Emirates has the world’s largest fleet of Boeing 777s – 112 with more on order, and the airline ranks #9 in current number of destinations. Emirates, now the world’s largest international carrier following its recent Code Sharing Agreement with Qantas, was the first airline in the world to introduce a personal entertainment system (ICE) on a commercial aircraft after introducing the world’s first seat-back screens in 1992.
The fuel-saving technology incorporated in newer airplanes – those purchased by airlines on Skytrax’ list of Top Ten Best Airlines – has placed pressure on other airline companies with predominantly earlier model airplanes to buy or die. Emirate’s average aircraft fleet age is 6.4 years – young in today’s airline industry. And yet, to Emirates’s credit, the airline is consistently profitable.
Continuing its momentous growth cycle, the $4.5 bil Dubai International Airport Terminal #3 is now the largest building in the world by floor space (1.5 million m2 or 370 acres), and the airport is the 11th busiest by passenger traffic. (Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta in the State of Georgia is the world’s busiest airport.)
Pick up my book STAYING AFLOAT – Three Years in Abu Dhabi to acquire a first-hand account of my experience as an expat in working and living in wealthy Abu Dhabi.