Air NZ scoops three Skytrax awards

By Eveline Harvey

Air New Zealand's premium economy seats and catering impressed travellers voting in this year's Skytrax World Airline Awards. File photo / Natalie Slade
Air New Zealand's premium economy seats and catering impressed travellers voting in this year's Skytrax World Airline Awards. File photo / Natalie Slade

Air New Zealand has won three categories of the prestigious Skytrax World Airline Awards, which were announced in Paris this week.

In addition to being named best airline in the Australia-Pacific region for the second year running, Air New Zealand picked up the awards for best premium economy-class airline and best premium economy-class catering.

It was also named seventh-best airline in the world.

Skytrax CEO Edward Plaisted said the Australia-Pacific award was "an indication of the quality of product and service that is available to passengers on Air New Zealand flights" and noted that the airline continued to be a pioneer within the premium economy market.

Air New Zealand's Group General Manager Shorthaul, Bruce Parton, said the awards were testament to the airline's culture of innovation.

"The new seating that we put in on the 777-300 has been a real step change for the market," he said.

"It's given customers the ability to change the type of environment they're in to a never-before-seen degree: so couples travelling together can have a more intimate arrangement; people travelling with their kids can set it up so the kids are in a zone that's really conducive to [them] having an enjoyable time."

Winning the inaugural award for best premium economy-class catering was pleasing for the airline, said Parton, but it also indicated how well-regarded New Zealand food and wine was internationally.

"We utilise some of the best chefs, both within NZ and overseas... we then look to use the very best of New Zealand produce and serve that in ways that we believe reflects well on New Zealand itself. And then we couple that with the best wines of anyone in the sky."

Parton said the 'seats to suit' product - which allows Transtasman- and Pacific-route customers to choose between purchasing a seat only, a seat and a bag, or a full service with food and alcohol - had also been extraordinarily successful since its launch last November.

The initiative would be extended as part of Air New Zealand's alliance with Virgin Australia, which comes into effect next month, Parton said.

The Skytrax awards were decided by collating surveys completed by airline travellers over a period of ten months.

Survey participants are asked about all aspects of air travel, from check-in and boarding procedures, to seat comfort, cabin cleanliness and staff service.

Parton said the scale of the awards - some 18.8 million passengers from around the world voted for this year's crop - made the accolades all the more special.

"It's really like winning the Olympics or the Oscars," he said.

WORLD AIRLINE AWARDS 2011

Best airlines:

1. Qatar Airways
2. Singapore Airlines
3. Asiana Airlines
4. Cathay Pacific Airways
5. Thai Airways International
6. Etihad Airways
7. Air New Zealand
8. Qantas Airways
9. Turkish Airlines
10. Emirates

Best airline Australia/Pacific:

1. Air New Zealand
2. Qantas Airways
3. JetStar Airways

Best premium economy-class airline

1. Air New Zealand
2. Turkish Airlines
3. Qantas Airways

Best premium economy-class catering

1. Air New Zealand
2. Turkish Airlines
3. V Australia

* For full details of all the award winners, click here.

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

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