Qatar Airways has been named the ‘Airline of the Year’ by Skytrax, a global air travel ratings company. This was announced at a Paris Air Show ceremony.

The award comes at a time when the airline which is based in Doha is dealing with restrictions such as the airspace it can use and the airports it can land in as neighbors of Qatar seek to isolate the tiny resource-rich country. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have cut off diplomatic relations besides closing the airspace to flights emanating to or heading to Qatar.

Isolation campaign

According to Akbar Al Baker, the chief executive officer of Qatar Airways, this has resulted in 52 routes being cancelled while more hours in flying time have been added to other flights. In an impromptu speech Al Baker used the occasion to issue a condemnation of the blockade being spearheaded by Qatar’s Arab neighbors.

“This award is not for me or my airline but for my country,” said Al Baker.

Qatar Airways has emerged as an important player in the global aviation sector by aggressively pursuing new routes. This has been helped by the airline’s investment in a new aircraft fleet. Besides flying to both long and ultra-long rotes, flyers on Qatar aircrafts have access to extravagant lounges and business class seating that is state-of-the-art.

In-flight business meetings

According to the airline’s website, the fleet of Qatar Airways which serve worldwide routes currently numbers 174 planes. The fleet consists of both Airbus and Boeing planes and includes the largest airliner in the world – the superjumbo Airbus A380.

On the A380, seats are nearly two-feet wide and there are also privacy partitions and entertainment screens measuring 26 inches. New seats named Q Suite have just been introduced in Business Class and they allow for enhanced privacy and also allow for business meetings to be conducted in-flight.

Prized customer

As a result of the fast growth of the fleet, Qatar Airways has emerged as one of the biggest customers to both Boeing and Airbus. Currently, the airline that is based in Doha has emerged as the largest customer for the Boeing 787 Dreamliners and the Airbus A350.

Other airlines which emerged as winners in the regular event organized by Skytrax includes Etihad Airways which won in the Best First Class category. The winner of the Best Economy Class category went to Thai Airways while the winner of the Best Low-Cost Airline was AirAsia.