Air New Zealand has been named the airline of the year by safety and product-rating website AirlineRatings.com with the way it has responded to engine problem fallout winning praise from judges.

It is the sixth time Air New Zealand has taken the crown for what the Australian-based editors of the site said were for its multi-award-winning in-flight innovations, operational safety, environmental leadership and motivation of its staff.

''These factors have stamped the airline as a clear industry leader.''

AirlineRatings.com editor Steve Creedy, left, presented the award to Air NZ chair Therese Walsh and acting chief executive Jeff McDowall. Photo / Dean Purcell
AirlineRatings.com editor Steve Creedy, left, presented the award to Air NZ chair Therese Walsh and acting chief executive Jeff McDowall. Photo / Dean Purcell

The AirlineRatings.com award for 2020, which was judged by seven editors with over 200 years' industry experience, combines major safety and government audits. Most of the other slew of awards in the airline industry are judged by passenger polls which favour the bigger carriers.

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The lobster thermidor on a Singapore Airlines A380. It won best First Class. Photo / Dean Purcell
The lobster thermidor on a Singapore Airlines A380. It won best First Class. Photo / Dean Purcell

AirlineRatings.com considered 12 key criteria, including: fleet age, passenger reviews, profitability, investment rating, product offerings, and staff relations.

Editor in chief Geoffrey Thomas said Air New Zealand came out number one in most of the audit criteria, which is an outstanding performance when it is up against carriers with more resources and scale.

"Air New Zealand's commitment to excellence in all facets of its business starts at the top with outstanding governance and one of the best executive teams in aviation through to a workforce that is delivering consistently to the airline's strategy and customer promise."

The airline achieved the top ranking as it battled fallout from Rolls-Royce engine problems that have at times grounded some of its Dreamliner fleet. Thomas said this made the award even more deserving.

The airline has just launched its 32nd international destination, a return to Seoul in South Korea after an absence of 22 years.

Air New Zealand acting chief executive Jeff McDowall said winning the award for a record sixth time was a testament to the efforts of the airline's 12,500 staff.

Hawaiian Airlines, which has ordered Dreamliners, has made the list. Photo / Supplied
Hawaiian Airlines, which has ordered Dreamliners, has made the list. Photo / Supplied

Singapore Airlines took top spot last year and again was in the running in a tight race, with Qantas and All Nippon Airways just being pipped at the post.

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Air New Zealand also won best Premium Economy, while Singapore Airlines won best First Class, Qatar Airways picked up Best Catering and best Business Class.

Qantas won best domestic airline service, and the coveted best lounges.

Virgin Australia won best cabin crew and best Economy Class, while Emirates won best In-flight entertainment.

Cebu Pacific picked up most improved airline while VietJetAir took out best ultra low-cost airline.

Excellence in long-haul travel: Delta Air Lines (Americas), Lufthansa (Europe), Emirates (Middle-East/Africa) Cathay Pacific Airways (Asia).

Best low-cost was JetBlue (Americas), Wizz (Europe) Air Arabia, (Middle-East Africa) AirAsia / AirAsia X (Asia/Pacific).

Top Twenty Airlines 2020:

Air New Zealand

Singapore Airlines

All Nippon Airways

Qantas

Cathay Pacific

Emirates

Virgin Atlantic

EVA Air

Qatar Airways

Virgin Australia

Lufthansa

Finnair

Japan Airlines

KLM

Korean Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines

British Airways

Alaska Airlines

Delta Air Lines

Etihad Airways