Singapore Airlines has been voted the world's best airline by travellers, with Qatar Airways taking second place and Japan's ANA in third position.

The awards were voted on by more than 20 million passengers and Air New Zealand came in 17th overall, two places up on last year. The awards tend to favour the bigger airlines but are seen as a useful guide to how they are delivering customer service.

Air New Zealand did win best premium economy class and seat, an increasingly important and competitive part of cabins for airlines and best airline cabin cleanliness in Australia/Pacific

Singapore Airlines - which is continuing to expand operations in this country - is up from second spot last year.

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"The recognition will further motivate us to improve upon the three main pillars of our brand promise – product leadership, service excellence and network connectivity – to ensure we retain our competitive advantage, and continue to meet and exceed customer expectations," said chief executive Goh Choon Phong.

Skytrax said Singapore Airlines was one of the most respected travel brands around the world.

As well as taking second place overall, Qatar Airways collected major awards for best Business Class, the best Business Class Seat, the best First Class Lounge and the best Airline in the Middle East.

In a relatively short time, Qatar Airways has grown to more than 140 destinations worldwide, offering levels of service excellence that helped the award-winning carrier to become best in the world, Skytrax said.

Qatar Airways group chief executive Akbar Al Baker had a swipe at neighbours which have imposed a blockade on his country.

"To have been awarded such accolades, in spite of the illegal blockade against our country, is a reflection of our commitment to excellence, innovation and to providing all passengers the finest service in the skies,'' he said.

''The fact that the Skytrax awards are voted for by travellers makes them especially meaningful and reconfirms that our passenger-focused strategy continues to deliver.''

Qatar Airways won the award for best Business Class seat. Photo / Greg Bowker
Qatar Airways won the award for best Business Class seat. Photo / Greg Bowker

Third overall was Japanese airline ANA which was also honoured with the award for the Best aircraft cabin cleanliness and the category of best airline staff in Asia.

Qatar's Middle East rival, Emirates, was voted fourth.

Qantas just missed the top 10 coming in 11th overall and a slew of awards for the Asia-Pacific for best airline, staff, first, business and economy class

Other accolades include China Southern Airlines winning the world's most Improved airline, continued success for Garuda Indonesia being named the world's best cabin crew, Norwegian as the best long-haul low-cost airline.

Qatar Airways Cabin Services Director, Ana Ciobanu gives a tour on the Q suite on board Qatar Airways. / Greg Bowker

AirAsia, which flies to Auckland from Malaysia, continued dominance being named the world's best low-cost airline.

The World Airline Awards were introduced in 1999 to provide a customer satisfaction study that was truly global. More than 100 customer nationalities participated in the survey with 20.36 million eligible entries counted in the results.

All survey entries were screened to identify IP and user information, with duplicate, suspect or ineligible entries deleted. Some 335 airlines are featured in the survey results.

The online survey operated from August 2017 to May this year and customer survey forms were offered in English, French, Spanish, Russian, Japanese and Chinese.