Middle East international carrier, Emirates, has been named the World’s Best Airline 2016 at the prestigious Skytrax World Airline Awards 2016.

In addition to this award, the mega carrier was also named World’s Best Inflight Entertainment for a record 12th consecutive year, and Best Airline in the Middle East.

Based on the results of the largest airline passenger satisfaction survey in the industry, the World’s Best Airline Awards are considered a global benchmark of airline excellence.

The airline explained that this year’s Skytrax awards were based on a total of 19.2 million completed surveys covering 280 airlines, by customers hailing from more than 104 countries. The Skytrax survey measures quality standards across 41 key performance indicators of front-line products and services in the airline industry.

This is the fourth time Emirates has won the top accolade since the airline awards were introduced 15 years ago; the airline won the first ever Skytrax World’s Best Airline in 2001, again in 2002 and in 2013. In total, Emirates has won a total of 20 Skytrax World Airline Awards since 2001.

Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline, said: “We are honoured to be recognized by the prestigious Skytrax awards. Emirates has always put our customers at the heart of what we do, and we work hard to deliver the very best experience possible to our customers at every touch point, every day, all around the world. We constantly invest in our product and services, both on the ground and in the air. We listen carefully to our customers, and then relentlessly challenge ourselves to deliver and exceed expectations. The fact that these awards are based on the direct feedback from passengers is gratifying and wonderful recognition for all of the hard work that’s gone into creating the Emirates experience.”

Commenting on the Award, Edward Plaisted, CEO of Skytrax said: “This fourth World’s Best Airline title for Emirates is a fantastic achievement and true testament to the airline’s popularity. To satisfy customers from such a wide and diverse passenger base is not an easy task, but Emirates continues to gain superlative feedback from customers for its product and service offering from the front to the back of the aircraft. The IFE that Emirates provides is a continued focal point for passenger praise and it is important to note that customers were not only impressed with the programming but also the superior hardware standards, particularly for the A380 fleet.”

In the same vein, South African Airways (SAA) has raked in a number of awards confirming its position as the leading airline on the African continent when it comes to brand recognition and innovative product offering.

The most prominent of these awards is the 2016 SkytraxAward for Best Airline in Africa, which SAA has now won for the fourteenth year in a row. The SkytraxAwards, the brainchild of an independent aviation research organisation, have become an institution on the annual events calendar. These awards are based on unsolicited customer feedback which makes them the benchmark of airline excellence.

“We are rightfully excited and proud to have won the Skytrax Award as Best Airline in Africa, for the fourteenth consecutive year, which demonstrates that SAA is still one  of the foremost airlines in the world, and the leader on the continent. Awards are important as they instill a sense of pride from our employees and customers alike. The Skytrax Award as Best Airline in Africa is based on customer feedback, which sets SAA securely on course to reach its strategic objective of Excellent Customer Service,” says Musa Zwane, SAA Acting CEO.

Commenting on the Award, Edward Plaisted, CEO of Skytrax said: “Air travellers continue to recognise the excellent passenger experience that South African Airways delivers across domestic, regional and long haul flights. The award for Best Airline in Africa is a great reward for the staff and management at SAA who should be proud of this fantastic achievement after more than a decade as Africa’s best airline”.

In recognition of the innovative products SAA offers customers, the airline’s new VIA Domestic Lounge at OR Tambo International Airport won a prestigious design award in May at the International Yacht and Aviation Awards held in Venice, Italy, in the Commercial Aviation Category under Airport Lounges.

The lounge which opened in September 2015 is the first of its kind to be opened as a partnership between the airline and Investec Private Bank.

The lounge exemplifies the highest standard in design and delivers a world-class customer experience. “The Star Alliance VIA Lounge competed for this award with some of the best airport lounges in the world, which makes this win a remarkable achievement in the global airport-lounge design space,” says Kim Thipe, SAA Head of Marketing.

Another product offering which has received recognition is the growth in SAA’s ancillary revenue. SAA received the award for the highest growth of ancillary sales at the Amadeus Merchandising, Digital and Travel Intelligence Conference.