The world’s best airlines for 2021, ranked by


(CNN) – It has been an odd year for the aviation industry, with many airlines grounding planes for much of 2020.

But as air travel returns to some regions, has released its annual roundup of the world’s best carriers, ready to help travelers decide which airline to choose for their return to the skies.
Australia’s aviation and product safety rating agency compiles its airline excellence awards based on criteria such as fleet age, passenger reviews and product offerings. This year, the team of global editors also incorporated the airlines’ Covid-19 responses.
And so for 2021 there’s a new entry at number one: Qatar Airways has jumped up the rankings to clinch the top spot, beating previous winner Air New Zealand – which has topped the list six times in recent years and this year has come to number two.
Geoffrey Thomas, editor-in-chief of told CNN Travel that it was Qatar Airways’ response to the pandemic that sealed the deal.

“Qatar Airways has always featured prominently in our rankings, winning various awards such as Best Business Class, but it was the airline’s commitment to keeping its route network widely open that garnered praise and the judges’ votes, ”Thomas said.

Thomas also highlights the airline’s repatriation flights and its commitment to making the pandemic flight experience as safe as possible.

Pandemic influence

Qatar Airways is’s top airline for 2021.

Courtesy of typically announces its top airlines in November, in anticipation of the coming year. The pandemic has forced the Aviation Safety and Product Rating Agency to turn things around.

“We pushed the 2021 announcement back into the year 2021 due to the Covid chaos and we wanted to see how the industry would handle the pandemic over a longer period before making any selections,” says Thomas.

Usually profitability is one of the key factors evaluated by judges as they rank top airlines, but due to the significant financial impact of Covid-19 on the aviation industry, finances have not been taken. into account this year.

“We had to drop that this year because pretty much every airline is losing money,” says Thomas.

Airline-Ratings-Best-Airlines-2021 (2)

Last year’s winner, Air New Zealand, is number two on this year’s list.

Courtesy of

Number four on the list is Qantas. The Australian airline was separately ranked the world’s safest airline by AirlineRatings earlier this year.

At number five is Emirates, based in Dubai.

In addition to the top 20 ranking, also awarded additional prizes for airline offers including Best First Class (Singapore Airlines), Best Cabin Crew (Virgin Australia) and Best Lounges in airport (Qantas).

Meanwhile, low-cost carrier EasyJet won the award for best low-cost airline for Europe, while Jetstar took the award in Asia / Pacific and Southwest took the award in the Americas.’s 20 Best Airlines for 2021

1. Qatar Airways

2. Air New Zealand

3. Singapore Airlines

4. Qantas

5. Emirates

6. Cathay Pacific

7. Atlantic Virgo

8. United Airlines

9. EVA Air

10. British Airways

11. Lufthansa

12. ANA

13. Finnair

14. Japanese airlines

15. KLM

16. Hawaiian Airlines

17. Alaska Airlines

18. Virgo Australia

19. Delta Air Lines

20. Etihad Airways